More than 15,000 lionfish were removed from Florida waters thanks to several tournaments held across the state focused on targeting the invasive species. Five of those fish were tagged previously by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff as part of the 2018 Lionfish Challenge, a removal incentive program that started May 19 on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day.
“This is an amazing showing for the fourth annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day weekend and surrounding events,” said Jessica McCawley, director of FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management. “Lionfish were removed via tournaments and the FWC’s incentive program, and the public got to learn first-hand about lionfish and what they can do to help at festivals like the one in Perdido Key held by the FWC and Coast Watch Alliance, as well as various other partners.”
The Lionfish Challenge runs through Sept. 3. More than 200 people have already registered to participate in the statewide Challenge, which rewards lionfish harvesters with prizes for their lionfish removals, tagged or not. The tagged lionfish component is new this year and includes cash prizes up to $5,000. Lionfish were tagged at 50 public artificial reefs across the state. Harvesters who caught the five tagged fish this weekend took home cash prizes up to $2,500 and non-cash prizes as well. All five tagged fish were caught off Escambia County.
Sign up and learn more today by visiting MyFWC.com/Lionfish.
The FWC thanks all of the sponsors and organizations across the state that helped make this Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day event a success.
Remember, lionfish and other exotic pets that can no longer be cared for should never be released into Florida waters or lands. To learn more about where to surrender an exotic pet for adoption, visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on “Nonnative Species” and “Exotic Pet Amnesty Program.”
Statewide Lionfish Events Removal Totals:
9,606 – Lionfish World Championship – Pensacola.
4,056 – Lionfish World Championship Pre-Tournament – Pensacola.
1,490 – Lion Tamer Tournament – Panama City Beach.
231 – Florida Skin Divers Association Lionfish Calcutta – St. Petersburg.
Postponed – Sebastian Lionfish Tournament – Sebastian.