Be the predator and remove Lionfish from Florida waters whenever you can!
If you live in Florida, you don’t have to be a scuba diver to be aware of the major problem we are having with Lionfish on our local reefs. I recently had dinner with friends visiting from New Jersey and as the topic of scuba diving came up, they were quick to question me about the invasive species. They seemed to know that they are hurting our ecosystem, but had no idea that they can be consumed safely and are quite tasty.
More and more news sources are reporting about them, trying to educate and bring awareness to this serious problem. Most people don’t realize just how disastrous it is. Lionfish multiply like crazy and have voracious appetites that decimate everything in their path which include our game and reef fish. The loss of these precious native marine species can change the entire landscape of our commercial and recreational fishing industry which relies on billions of dollars of business a year. The Lionfish intrusion has been added to the list of three invasive species to Florida alongside python snakes and tegu lizards. House Bill 587 requires these species to be tagged before being sold in the hopes of hindering pet shops from selling them.
What can you do about it? Become a certified scuba diver. Until other means become mainstream, scuba divers are the primary predator, keeping numbers in certain areas under control. The REEF Lionfish program does a tremendous job educating, researching and fighting this complex problem. They hold regional derbies throughout the year, offering lucrative prizes for the biggest, smallest and most amount caught by each team. These derbies are a lot of fun and have an astounding impact on the control of this pest. Over 26,000 lionfish were harvested through derbies alone in 2016. The FWC website has a lot of great information on how you can help and join a future derby being held in the state of Florida. Here is a list of the upcoming derbies in Florida for 2017.