FWC receives donations for new tagged-lionfish removal program

At the Dec. 5 Commission meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) gratefully acknowledged $25,000 in charitable donations from six generous sponsors. These funds will go to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and will be used as cash prizes for a new and novel lionfish removal incentive program, rewarding harvesters who find and remove lionfish previously tagged by FWC staff.

Lionfish are a nonnative invasive species that can reduce native fish populations and negatively affect the overall reef habitat.

This program will run May 19 through Sept. 3, 2018, and will coincide with the annual summer-long Lionfish Challenge, which rewards recreational and commercial lionfish harvesters with prizes for submitting their lionfish removal efforts.

“The FWC could not be more thankful and excited about the rallying efforts to draw attention to the important lionfish issue,” said FWC Commissioner Bo Rivard. “The control of nonnative lionfish populations has always been a group effort, and what these companies and organizations came forward with to help encourage removals is simply outstanding.”

The following companies and organizations made contributions at the December meeting:

American Sportfishing Association.
Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.
Boat Owners Association of the United States.
National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Coastal Conservation Association Florida.
Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Inc.
More on the 2018 tagged-lionfish removal program

The goal of the 2018 tagged-lionfish removal program is to increase statewide removal efforts by giving divers a greater incentive to harvest lionfish more often while in search of the valuable tagged fish. Additional non-cash prizes are also available for those who harvest and submit a tagged lionfish. The program also will provide FWC with valuable data on the movement of lionfish.

Approximately six to eight lionfish will be tagged at each of 50 randomly-selected public artificial reef sites throughout the Atlantic and Gulf between the depths of 80 and 120 feet. Participants will have access to the reef locations at ReefRangers.com.

Additional information about the rules and requirements of the tagged-lionfish removal program will be announced in early 2018.