Supporting Lionfish Control
Photo by Jason Arnold
FWC Takes Action to Support Lionfish Control
On June 12, the FWC Commission approved a new rule to encourage the removal of invasive lionfish. The rule will replace a similar temporary rule that expires on Aug. 3, 2013.The new rule provides that divers who harvest lionfish with pole spears, Hawaiian slings, dip nets or other spearing devices specifically designed for lionfish are not required to purchase a recreational saltwater fishing license. The new rule also exempts lionfish from the default 100-pound per person daily recreational limit that applies to all marine species that do not have more specific regulations.
While this is a great tool to increase public awareness of the lionfish problem and encourage control efforts, it should not be viewed as a blanket exemption. For individuals who wish to harvest other marine species, or wish to harvest lionfish with gear that is not covered in the rule, a recreational license is still required unless the individual meets established license exemption criteria. The rule also does not allow spearing in specific areas where spearing is prohibited for public safety reasons. To learn more about the basic ruleson spearing in Florida waters please visit MyFWC.com/Fishing/Saltwater/Recreational
and select Spearing which is located at the bottom of the page under Other Information.In early 2013, the Collier County Board of County Commissioners requested that FWC repeal rules which prohibited the use of artificial light while spearing or gigging fish in the salt water and prohibited underwater spearfishing in all state waters off Collier County. These rules, which are housed in FWCs Special Acts of Local Application with other local and county specific rules, were viewed by the county as antiquated and not in the publics best interest. These two acts were originally implemented by the Florida Legislature and later adopted into rule by the FWC in 1999. The FWC Commission agreed in April to move forward with the required rulemaking to eliminate the antiquated regulations. Statewide rules for spearing now apply to all state waters off Collier County.
Please help FWC spread the word about invasive lionfish to all divers who have the ability to remove these harmful fish. ®
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.