This Saturday is not only Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, it’s also the kick off for Florida’s Lionfish Challenge—an incentive program to encourage people to remove the nonnative species. State wildlife officials are doing a bit of a revamp this year.
During last year’s Lionfish Challenge, more than 16,000 lionfish were removed from Florida waters. This year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hoping for even more removals. And, FWC spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says what’s new this year is lionfish hunters can participate in either a recreational or commercial category.
“Remove 25 lionfish or 25 pounds if you’re a commercial harvester, and you can submit that information to us via photo and basically, it will allow you to get prizes for your lionfish removal,” she said. “The initial prize that you can get is a commemorative coin with a lionfish on it, you can take an additional spiny lobster during the two-day sports season, which is coming up in July.”
The lionfish challenge ends Labor Day, September 4th. On that day, the commercial champion will be honored, and the lionfish king or queen will be crowned in the recreational category. For more information or to register, visit myFWC.com/lionfish.
Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day
Over the weekend, thousands are expected to take part in Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day. Last year, more than 7,000 people converged on Pensacola for its two-day festival and tournament. Other cities around the state are having similar events as well. Nalley says it’s all part of her agency’s ongoing effort to get rid of lionfish and educate people on the invasive species that can have a negative impact on wildlife.
“If you learn about lionfish, make sure you tell other people about it,” she added. “If you haven’t tried it, it’s a delicious fish. But, our big thing is trying to get people aware of lionfish and get people interested in eating them and removing them and making sure that they are being responsible pet owners.”
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