FWC Combats Lionfish Invasion With Fishery Changes

By  //  June 18, 2014

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New Rule Prohibits Importing Live Lionfish

ABOVE VIDEO: FWC tags lionfish in Marathon, Florida.

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Lionfish displays at the FWC’s Lionfish Summit at Cocoa Beach in October of 2013.

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) made several changes at a June 18 meeting in Fort Myers that will help combat the lionfish invasion in Florida waters.

Lionfish are an invasive species that have a negative impact on native wildlife and habitat.

Approved changes go into effect Aug. 1 and include:

  • Prohibiting the importation of live lionfish

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  • Allowing the harvest of lionfish when diving with a rebreather, a device that recycles air and allows divers to remain in the water for longer periods of time; and
  • Allowing participants in approved tournaments and other organized events to spear lionfish or other invasive species in areas where spearfishing is not allowed. This will be done through a permitting system.

“Changes like these will make it easier for divers to remove lionfish from Florida waters and will help prevent additional introductions of lionfish into marine habitats,” said State Rep. Holly Raschein, who has been proactive in the lionfish-control efforts.

From outreach and education to regulatory changes, controlling the lionfish population has been a priority for FWC staff. In 2013, they hosted the first ever Lionfish Summit, which brought together various stakeholders from the public as well as management and research fields to discuss the issues and brainstorm solutions. These changes were inspired in part by discussions at the Lionfish Summit.

See or catch a lionfish? Report a sighting by downloading the new Report Florida Lionfish app on a smart device or by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Recreational Regulations” (under “Saltwater”) and then “Lionfish.”

To learn more about these changes, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and “Commission Meetings.” To learn more about lionfish, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Lionfish.”

BELOW VIDEO: FWC Spokesperson Amanda Nalley describes the 2013 Lionfish Summit in Cocoa Beach.


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