Florida wildlife officials are continuing to look into new ways to help target an invasive species plaguing state waterways. They’ve started the lionfish state records program.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is encouraging divers to catch a record lionfish—a creature which has a negative impact on native fish and wildlife with no natural predators.
Categories include largest and smallest lionfish. FWC spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says the length must be measured in millimeters and the weight must be measured in grams.
“We need to measure that fish as well,” she said. “So, once you have submitted your application, we will work with you to make sure we get to measure that fish for proof that it is the size that you say it is.”
Record holders will be recognized on FWC’s website and may receive prizes as well.
“It is possible that we may do prize giveaways,” Nalley added. “It’s just going to be dependent upon sponsorship opportunities and things like that.”
The current record for longest lionfish is 477 millimeters or nearly 19 inches. It’s held by Captain Jimmy Nelson of Islamorada from May of last year.
FWC’s Melissa Crouch says it’s important to measure the fish, according to the state’s size limits.
“If you decide to use something like a tape measure, make sure that you lay that on a flat surface and then measure the face on top of it, she said,” in a recent video. “If you lay the measuring tape over the fish, the contour of it will distort your measurement, and it will be inaccurate.”
The state's records program also includes divisions for junior—age 16 and younger—as well as hook and line fishing methods. For more information, visit the FWC's website.
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