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2017 Lionfish Challenge

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Florida Saltwater Fishing

Lionfish, Beware: The 2017 Lionfish Challenge is Underway!

With the first successful Lionfish Challenge in the books for 2016, comes this year’s revamped 2017 Statewide Lionfish Challenge. The program kicked off on this year’s Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day May 20 and continues through Labor Day (Sept. 4). With two participation categories (commercial and recreational) and more prize opportunities for all, this year’s Lionfish Challenge is shaping up to be even better than the last.

Lionfish are a nonnative species that have become well established throughout the Gulf of Mexico, along the Atlantic Coast, and Caribbean. Their voracious appetites, high reproductive output, and 18 venomous spines make them a force to be reckoned with. With no natural control mechanism for reducing lionfish populations, our native ecosystems are counting on you to “Be the Predator” and remove lionfish.

To participate in the Lionfish Challenge, register at MyFWC.com/Lionfish. Participants will be separated into either the recreational or commercial category. Those that have an active Saltwater Products License and have commercial lionfish sales within the last year will automatically be placed in the commercial category. Once you register, it’s time to have some fun.

Participants who submit 25 or more lionfish (25 lbs. for commercial) will be rewarded with a variety of incentives, including a Challenge T-shirt, commemorative coin, and the opportunity to take an additional spiny lobster each day during the two-day sport season. In the recreational category, all lionfish over the initial 25 must be brought to one of the statewide checkpoints listed on MyFWC.com/Lionfish. To encourage continued removals, participants that submit additional fish will have the opportunity to receive prizes such as a customized neck gaiter, reusable heat pack for lionfish stings, customized tumbler, and Neritic pole spear.

This year’s Lionfish Challenge is already underway, but if you target lionfish and have not yet registered for the Lionfish Challenge, you still have plenty of time to be recognized for your removal efforts. The persons who check in the most lionfish will be crowned the recreational Lionfish King/Queen and the Commercial Champion. Both winners will be rewarded and recognized at the Lionfish Safari Sept. 10 in St. Petersburg.

To see a full list of participants and prize winners, visit the Hall of Fame page at MyFWC.com/Lionfish and
click on “Lionfish Challenge.” Happy lionfish hunting.

Earl Solomon