There is no denying that the lionfish invasion is in full swing and resource managers, researchers and the public are all responding.
“Private recreational divers have really stepped up to the plate and are leading the effort to control the invasion,” said Dan Ellinor, Biological Administrator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management. “More and more recreational divers are routinely harvesting lionfish and participating in lionfish derby events. This is very positive, and we look forward to supporting these efforts to ensure that this trend continues.”
Besides making recent regulatory changes, FWC continues to increase public awareness by giving presentations, distributing educational materials, updating the MyFWC.com website, and conducting innovative social media campaigns.
Here is an update on some of our recent outreach and education efforts and how you can participate in them.
In an effort to better educate the public about the lionfish issue and dispel some common misconceptions, FWC has developed a suite of lionfish webpages and updated several current pages. New features include a lionfish regulations page, clearly identifying what you need to know when harvesting lionfish; a 2013 Lionfish Summit page recapping what was learned at the 2013 event and where we will go next; and updates to the lionfish species page and the frequently asked questions page. We are also working on the creation of several lionfish research pages that will include landings data and more.
One of the coolest new pages is a lionfish derby and event page. Have an upcoming derby or event you’d like listed? Email the name of the event, time, date, website, contact information and location to Saltwater@MyFWC.com to have it featured there.
Want to know when this page has been updated so you don’t miss out on a new event? You can follow the page and receive notifications by email or text every time a new event has been added. Do this by clicking on the “sign up for updates” button at the top right of the screen next to the small red envelope. You’ll be asked to provide your email address and then you can select what information you’d like to receive from us. To follow the lionfish derby and event page, put a checkmark next to “SWF – Lionfish Events” under the “Saltwater Fishing” tab.
Report Florida Lionfish App
FWC also recently developed a Report Florida Lionfish app where harvesters can quickly upload photos and information about lionfish that were observed or harvested. The app is easy to use and will help the FWC collect information that will improve the efficiency of future control efforts. To download the app on your smart device, visit the App Store or Google Play and search for “report Florida lionfish.” The first 250 users of the FWC Lionfish App will also receive a free “lionfish control team” T-shirt, the design of which was recently updated and includes an interactive logo that comes to life.
Interactive Lionfish T-shirt and other print products
FWC also produced a new and interactive lionfish T-shirt that will be distributed to harvesters at various events in 2014 as well as to the first 250 users of the Report Florida Lionfish App (you must provide your contact information to participate). Using the power of Augmented Reality, the logo featured on the back of the shirt is designed to come to life. To activate the feature, download the free Aurasma app on your smart device; open the app and scroll past the introduction screens until the screen looks as though you are going to take a photograph; press the Aurasma logo at the bottom of the screen and then the search logo (looks like a magnifying glass); search for the “MyFWCMarine” channel and click on the “Follow” button once you’ve found it; click the photo brackets at the bottom of the screen and point the phone at the lionfish logo as though you were going to take a photo of it; wait until the image comes to life. A video about the lionfish issue will pop up on the screen. Be sure to continue pointing the phone at the image until the video has completed. Also, you can tap on the screen at any time and it will take you to the MyFWC.com website.
An updated version of the agency’s educational lionfish brochure was also recently revamped and printed for distribution through dive shops, spearfishing organizations, lionfish derby’s and other events.
Most importantly, you
FWC is working to better educate the public about the lionfish issue and raise awareness, but no matter what we do, we cannot move forward without you. Please visit our webpages and email them to your friends. If you receive a lionfish t-shirt, please wear it and tell people why lionfish are an issue and how to help remove them from Florida waters. Or, even better, show them how the interactive feature works and let FWC tell them via video. Download and use the Report Florida Lionfish app and let us know when you have spotted or removed lionfish from Florida waters. Have questions or suggestions? Email them to Saltwater@MyFWC.com or call 850-487-0554.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.