Florida’s Lionfish Challenge wraps up tomorrow (Sept. 30), and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is estimating that more than 14,000 of the invasive species have been removed from the state’s waters.
The challenge began in May, with Lionfish Awareness Day, and is aimed at controlling the lionfish population. Lionfish, an invasive species with a voracious appetite that has the potential to decimate the local fisheries, have no known predators in local waters, reproduce at an alarmingly high rate, are venomous and are typically removed by spearfishermen.
In addition to various levels of prizes and awards, the overall winner of the Lionfish Challenge will be named Lionfish King or Queen at the FWC’s November meeting. As of mid-September, David Garrett was in the lead with a total of 1,468 lionfish removed, followed by John Dickinson, with more than 600 removed.
In addition to the Lionfish Challenge, the state has also sponsored the Lionfish Panhandle Pilot Program, which runs through May 2017. The program involves a seven-county region, and encourages divers to remove lionfish in exchange for a chance to win various fishing tags and name an artificial reef.
For more information on the lionfish challenge or panhandle pilot program, click here.
To read about efforts to design an effective lionfish trap, read “Researchers Encouraged by Local Lionfish Trap Tests” and “Building a Better Lionfish Trap.”