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Rare Nassau grouper facing extinction gets closer to ESA protection

Nassau grouper gets closer to ESA protection
Nassau grouper gets closer to ESA protection
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Overfishing has been occurring since the 1800’s and the first marine animals to be exploited by humans were whales for lamp-oil blubber.

Overfishing remains a problem with experts claiming all today's most popular fish for human consumption could be extinct by 2048, according to a report in National Geographic.

Herring and Atlantic cod were over-harvested almost to extinction in the mid-1900's.

Furthermore, today's commercial fisheries rarely self-regulate and often conservation groups have to take legal action to protect fish from man's exploitation.

The Nassau grouper was placed on the Endangered Species Act “threatened” list September 2, by actions from the National Marine Fisheries in response to pressure from a 2010 petition filed by WildEarth Guardians.

“We’re thrilled the Nassau grouper is finally moving closer to the protection it so desperately needs to survive and recover,” said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians in a statement. “We urge the agency to work quickly to finalize the listing and protect these amazing fish from exploitation.”

Nassau groupers can be found in the coral reefs of the North Atlantic from Bermuda down to Florida and from the Bahamas to southern Brazil and Belize, with occasional sightings along the Gulf of Mexico.

These amazing fish are loners, but they aren’t bashful around scuba divers. They can live to be 29 years old and grow up to four feet long, but they are slow to reproduce.

In fact, this amazing fish follows the cycle of the moon for breeding, according to WildEarth Guardians’ statement, so near the full moon they come together to form “spawning aggregations”, vulnerable to fishermen, because the time and locations are so predictable.

“Reining in human exploitation of Nassau grouper spawning aggregations is key to protecting these magnificent fish,” said Jones. “The agency should also designate critical habitat in the U.S. portions of the species’ range to protect the coral reefs and spawning sites these fish need to survive.”

The Nassau grouper is also recognized as endangered by the world organization IUCN Red list.