Record Numbers Of Invasive Lionfish Removed From Florida Waters During FWC Event

By  //  May 19, 2016

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8,089 lionfish were removed

ABOVE VIDEO: The lionfish is invading Florida’s coastal waters, harming native wildlife and habitat. This non-native species has venomous spines, lacks natural predators, and is able to reproduce quickly, which allows it to dominate other fish species that compete for resources. Divers are helping researchers catch the fish to learn more about its biology and develop ways to control the population.

(MyFWC.com) – The second annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival removed 11,032 lionfish from Florida’s coasts in May. 

In Pensacola alone, 8,089 lionfish were removed in only two days at the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition Tournament. More than 7,000 people (more than double last year’s numbers) attended the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) festival, where visitors got to taste lionfish, see filet demonstrations, check out art and conservation booths and more.

Charles Meyling of Montgomery broke the state record for longest lionfish caught in Gulf waters when he brought in a 445 millimeter lionfish (previous record was 438 millimeters).

At FWC supported events statewide that weekend and leading up to that weekend, another 5,978 lionfish were removed for a total of 14,067 statewide (2,975 lionfish were removed statewide in 2015).

“These numbers are a great example of the agency’s efforts to get the public educated about and involved in lionfish removal,” said Jessica McCawley, Division of Marine Fisheries Management director.

“Events like this one will encourage continued involvement in proactively and successfully removing lionfish.”

Thanks to the growing interest in lionfish as a food fish, many lionfish harvested around the state will be sold commercially in places like New Orleans, Atlanta, Destin, in Florida Whole Foods, and by Edible Invaders in Pensacola.

(MyFWC.com) – The second annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival removed 11,032 lionfish from Florida's coasts May 14 and 15. (NaplesHerald.com Image)

The second annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival removed 11,032 lionfish from Florida’s coasts May 14 and 15. (NaplesHerald.com Image)

Another selection will go to Wharton and Brandon high schools in Hillsborough County, where three students will be studying lionfish diet using DNA barcoding for an upcoming STEM fair project.

Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (first Saturday after Mother’s Day) was created by FWC Commissioners to raise awareness about lionfish – nonnative, invasive species that have a potential negative impact on native species and habitat.

Want to help remove lionfish? Participate in the 2016 Lionfish Challenge or the Panhandle Pilot Program.

VIDEO: FWC Rescues, SeaWorld Rehabilitates Three Manatees; Mother and Calf IncludedRelated Story:
VIDEO: FWC Rescues, SeaWorld Rehabilitates Three Manatees; Mother and Calf Included

Statewide Lionfish Event Removal Totals:

655 – FSDA Lionfish Calcutta – St. Petersburg

3,478 – Northeast Florida Lionfish Blast – Jacksonville

727 – Lion Tamer Tournament – Panama City Beach

25 – Reef Environmental Education Foundation – Key Largo

31 – Sebastian Lionfish Fest – Sebastian

1,062 – Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition Pre-Tournament – Pensacola

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