The return of the goliath grouper population in the south Atlantic proves that consistent use of the management measures available under the Magnuson-Stevens and Endangered Species acts to protect fish and their habitat can be successful. It has taken more than a decade to remove the goliath grouper from the NOAA Fisheries Service “Species of Concern” list.
“Oceana congratulates the fishery management councils and the federal and state governments on their successful use of the best available science to keep the goliath grouper from becoming an endangered species,” said David Allison, Oceana’s Stop Destructive Trawling campaign director.
The Species of Concern list was created by NOAA Fisheries Service in 2004 to identify those marine species that are of concern to scientists regarding status and threats, but where there is insufficient data to list them under the Endangered Species Act. Twenty-five marine species, including the goliath grouper, have been placed on the list.
Unfortunately, the goliath grouper is still considered overfished under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the fishery management councils continue to prohibit recreational and commercial fishing of it.
“I think the lesson for other fishery management councils to learn here is that it often takes decades for a marine species to fully recover,” said Allison. “Councils must consistently use science and the conservation tools provided by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to protect juvenile fish and their habitat to successfully rebuild fish populations.”
Congress is reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Act this year and should take the example of the goliath grouper to ensure that conservation measures and science remain strong tools to protect our marine life. As the U.S. House of Representatives writes its reauthorization legislation own, legislators should not weaken the ability of fishery managers and the fishing community to protect their livelihoods and the ocean’s health.