Currently, there is a conflict between the need to conserve protected fish species and the need to use lethal methods to collect essential biological data, such as age, to assess their population status and recovery trends. Our goal was to develop an accurate, non-lethal method of estimating the age of goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara), a protected species in U.S. waters. Paired finray and otolith samples were collected from fish that had been killed by red tide events in southwest Florida, from mark-recapture research activities, and from confiscated fish. Preliminary aging of these matched samples indicated that finrays may be useful for aging goliath grouper up to at least 14 - 17 years of age. Further aging comparisons to assess the limitation of the finray aging method will depend on obtaining samples from larger, and presumably older, goliath grouper. If the non-lethal aging method can be used as an alternative to lethal aging using otoliths then it will significantly reduce the need to sacrifice protected goliath grouper.