The third annual Pensacola Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival is coming up, with this year’s event including a fishing tournament, an art contest and lionfish tastings dished up by local ‘celebrity’ chefs.
The local annual festival was established to raise awareness about the threat of lionfish — an invasive species with a healthy appetite and no known predators — to native fisheries, and also to promote the fish as a delicious addition to the commercial seafood market’s menu.
Participating in the Lionfish fest this year are a collection of art, conservation and diving-related vendors, as well as the following sponsors: Escambia County’s Marine Resources Division, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Whole Foods Market, iHeartMedia, Coast Watch Alliance, Visit Pensacola, Florida Sea Grant, the city of Pensacola, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, tournament host Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition, Guy Harvey Magazine, SHELLArt, Dive Rite, ZooKeeper and Dive Pros.
The festival’s art contest is open to local students. The Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Mail Art Contest’s theme this year is “Protect our Native Fishes from Lionfish”; drawings, collages, paintings or photos are welcome. Entries must be mailed to Escambia County Marine Resources, 3363 West Park Place, Pensacola, FL 32505 by May 10. The contest is open to students from elementary to high school, with winners receiving snorkeling and lionfish gear. Email Shelly Marshall at email@example.com to learn more.
The festival’s fishing tournament will be hosted by the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition. Visit the Lionfish World Championship website at LionfishWorldChampionship.com for more information.
The Pensacola lionfish festival is scheduled for May 20-21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at Plaza de Luna, 900 S. Palafox St.