Monday, August 6, 2007

Piping plovers & goliath groupers on the mend



Here's a set of stories demonstrating the effectiveness of federal and state wildlife protection laws. The first story, in the News-Press, documents the comeback of the Atlantic piping plover.

After dropping to 722 mating pairs in 1985, the plover was declared a threatened species. Two decades later, the plover population has increased 141 percent thanks largely to beach closures and buffers between birds and humans.

The second story, from the Tallahassee Democrat, describes the increases in the number of critically endangered Goliath grouper, which almost disappeared during the 1980s, and has been protected from fishing since 1990 in Florida waters. Adult fish can grow to the size of a small car. Because of recent increases in the number of Goliath groupers counted, some fisherman have asked the state to allow fishing again. However, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is quoted as "People should not expect that the Goliath grouper will be open to harvest soon, if ever." Moreover, the story contains several quotes from Christopher Koenig, a research biologist at Florida State University's Coastal and Marine Laboratory in St. Teresa:

"This fish is on the brink ... You deal with endangered species differently. You deal with them in a way that ensures their survival ... Their populations are declining and have declined to the point of near-extinction throughout all their range. Except Florida, where we have a success story. ... There's already a lot of poaching going on and this kind of opens the door to more of it."

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