FWC’s 2019 Lionfish Challenge Begins with Record Removals
24 May, 2019
Invasive Florida Lionfish where they belong. FWC photo by Bekah Nelson
via Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
A total of 19,167 spiny, invasive predators were removed from Gulf and Atlantic waters as part of the Emerald Coast Open, which coincided with the fifth annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Festival at AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar and HarborWalk Village in Destin, Florida, on May 18th and 19th. That’s a lot of lionfish.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) worked closely with the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau on both the tournament and the festival.
This tournament may be over, but there are still chances to win prizes through the FWC’s 2019 Lionfish Challenge, a removal incentive program that started May 18th (Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day) and runs through Labor Day (Sept. 2nd). This year, participants who submit the largest and smallest lionfish may be eligible to receive up to $3,000 in cash prizes thanks to support from sponsors: American Sportfishing Association, Yamaha Motor Company, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, and National Marine Manufacturers Association. Find more details on how to get rewarded for your harvest at FWCReefRangers.com.
The FWC thanks all the sponsors and organizations 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.”
Emerald Coast Open stats:
- Total removed: 19,167
- Total removed May 18 and 19: 14,119
- Pre-tournament removals starting Feb. 1: 5,048
- Winning Team: Florida Man removed 2,241 lionfish
- Largest lionfish: 17.32 inches by team Killer B’s
- Smallest lionfish: 2.95 inches by team Diamond Diver
- Total number of participants: 189
Staff tallying lionfish caught as part of the Emerald Coast Open. FWC photo by Amanda Nalley.
Support Florida lionfish control programs by purchasing new Rep Your Water lionfish hats at Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida or a 2019 Guy Harvey Lionfish apparel.
About the author
Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL Magazine and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.