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2018 Lionfish Challenge

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Florida Saltwater Fishing

Sharpen your spears, the 2018 Lionfish Challenge is here

Divers: Get ready for another exciting year of lionfish hunting. After two years and nearly 43,000 lionfish removed as part of the previous years incentive programs, the 2018 Lionfish Challenge is sure to follow suit. The program kicked off on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, May 19 and will continue through Labor Day (Sept. 3). Adding to the excitement, this year’s Challenge includes a new tagged-lionfish component, encouraging divers to harvest more lionfish while in search of FWC-tagged lionfish that are worth up to $5,000 in cash.

Lionfish are a nonnative species that have become well established throughout the Gulf of Mexico, Western Atlantic, and Caribbean Sea. First seen off the coast of Florida in the mid-1980s, these voracious predators have been coined the worst marine invasion to date. Their high reproductive output, 18 venomous spines, and gluttony make them a threat to native species and ecosystems.

To participate in the 2018 Lionfish Challenge and the tagged-lionfish component, divers must register at MyFWC.com/Lionfish. Participants will compete in either the recreational or commercial category (note: active Saltwater Products License holders with commercial lionfish sales within the last year can only compete in the commercial category).

Participants in the recreational category that submit 25 lionfish (25 lbs. for commercial) will receive a 2018 Lionfish Challenge t-shirt, commemorative coin and the opportunity to harvest an additional spiny lobster per day during the two-day sport season. Submit more lionfish and earn additional prizes! Items include customized harvesting gear, beach towels, Engel tumblers, TurtleSkin puncture proof gloves, reusable heat packs for lionfish stings and more.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, participants who harvest and submit an FWC-tagged lionfish are eligible to win a cash prize up to $5,000. FWC-tagged lionfish may be found on 50 randomly selected artificial reefs on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida in water depths of 80-120 ft. Visit ReefRangers.com or the FWC Artificial Reefs webpage for a list of potential reef locations. Be sure to keep an eye out for these valuable tagged fish during your summer harvesting efforts!

The recreational harvester who submits the most lionfish will be crowned the Lionfish King/Queen and the commercial harvester who submits the most lionfish by weight will be named the Commercial Champion. Both winners will be rewarded and recognized for their outstanding removal efforts. Additional rewards and recognition will be given to the second and third place position in each harvesting category.

Get recognized for your lionfish removal efforts and compete for the crown in the 2018 Lionfish Challenge. Learn more at MyFWC.com/Lionfish.