Florida Saltwater Fishing
FWC celebrates the 2020 Lionfish Challenge
The FWC is excited to announce that the Lionfish Challenge removal incentive program continued to grow in its fifth year. A total of 170 recreational and commercial harvesters removed over 21,500 lionfish from Florida waters during the Challenge that started on May 22 and ended on Nov. 1, 2020. FWC has tracked the removal of over 780,000 lionfish from Florida waters since 2014.
The 2020 Lionfish Challenge recreational Lionfish King is David Connerth of Palm Beach County. Connerth earned this designation after harvesting a total of 1,141 lionfish. On average, Connerth conducts harvest trips twice a week and harvests around 25 lionfish per trip. Connerth has always had a passion for biology and the marine environment. His motivation to participate in the Challenge comes from his drive to remove lionfish to protect the reefs and allow more biodiversity and abundance of predatory fishes.
This year’s Commercial Champion is Isidoro Bedoya of Duval County. Bedoya harvested a total of 1,196.5 pounds of lionfish (poundage equates to about 1,319 fish). Bedoya targets lionfish and other reef fish species commercially out of Jacksonville. He enjoys helping to protect the reefs and native species. Bedoya harvests 100 lbs. of lionfish on average per trip and conducts about three trips per month.
Connerth and Bedoya earned a woodburning lionfish trophy custom-made by Adam Mahr, a Shearwater Perdix dive computer, and $300 for SCUBA Nitrox refills.
The 2020 Challenge also included a new incentive this year with monthly Mini-Challenges. During the Mini-Challenge #1, the first 25 participants who qualified for the Lionfish Challenge were entered into a raffle drawing to take home a YETI Panga Dry Backpack. The winners were Chris Campbell, Sarah Peirce and Michael Curry. Mini Challenge #2 awarded participants for harvesting large lionfish between July 3 – July 13. Participants with fish over 400 mm earned a 10L customized Reef Rangers dry bag, and the participant to harvest the largest lionfish earned a Shearwater Perdix dive computer. The winner of the Largest Lionfish Mini-Challenge was Josh Livingston who submitted a fish that was 408 mm (16.06 inches) long! Mini-Challenge #3 awarded participants $500 in cash for submitting the most lionfish within their region between Aug. 21 – Sept. 1. The winners for the Most Lionfish Mini-Challenge were: Northeast Region: Russell Peters – 705 lionfish; Southeast Region: Shane Rasch – 241 lionfish; West Region: Jennifer Ford-Cote – 105 lionfish; Northwest Region: Bob Gamble – 61 lionfish; and Commercial: Isidoro Bedoya – 174 lbs. Mini-Challenge #4 ran from Sept. 25 – Oct. 13 and allowed participants to earn one raffle entry for each fish submitted. Winners included: Carlos Orozco, Danny Ward and Annie Beattie, each who won a Dive Rite Aircell XT steel backplate BCD.
A special thanks to the 49 dive shops and businesses that served as checkpoints. Without checkpoint participation, the Challenge would not have been possible.
To learn more about the Challenge, including dates for next year’s event, and to see a full list of participants and prize winners, visit FWCReef
Rangers.com. For questions, e-mail Lionfish@MyFWC.com.
Lionfish Challenge – Recreational Category
# of Lionfish Caught
|1st Place |
|2nd Place||Russell Peters||842|
|3rd Place||Shane Rasch||619|
Lionfish Challenge – Commercial Category
Pounds of Lionfish Caught
|1st Place |
|Isidoro Bedoya||1,196.5 lbs.|
|2nd Place||Josh Livingston||943 lbs.|
|3rd Place||Rachel Bowman||932.75 lbs.|