Grouper in the Red?
The estimated recreational catch of red grouper jumped from 1.536 million pounds in 2003 to 3.53 million pounds in 2004, an unprecedented increase that was unexpected considering that four major hurricanes hit Florida last year, greatly reducing the amount of time anglers spent on the water. Early recreational-catch numbers for the first four months of 2005 are back in line with 2003 levels. But based on the 2004 survey numbers for red grouper, the National Marine Fisheries Service implemented interim measures, including a total recreational closure on all grouper species during November and December. However, in August, the Coastal Conservation Association filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Fort Myers. The suit challenges the decision to close the entire grouper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico and asks the court to expedite its decision regarding the legality of the closure before it takes effect. For more information, visit www.joincca.org.