KEY LARGO — Fishery management experts will be meeting in the Florida Keys this week to discuss protections for the Goliath grouper.
Some critics tell The Key West Citizen that the protections established in 1990 should be lifted because the massive fish have become so plentiful that they are eating large numbers of spiny lobster and interfere with anglers trying to hook smaller fish.
Conservationists disagree, saying Goliath grouper populations have not rebounded to a point where they could be responsibly harvested. Dive business operators say the 500-pound fish also have become a valuable attraction for divers.
Goliath groupers once made easy prey for fishermen with spear guns and diving equipment.
State wildlife officials will join representatives from other fishery management councils at the Goliath grouper committee meeting Thursday in Key Largo.