The Lionfish Removal Challenge is underway, and Florida wildlife officials say so far, thousands of the invasive species have been removed—most from the Panhandle area.
Since mid-May, close to 30 divers have entered more than 4,300 lionfish in the statewide Lionfish Challenge. Lionfish have no natural predators and have a negative impact on wildlife. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the goal of the challenge is to remove 50 or more lionfish from state waters for a reward. Rewards can include a coin, an event T-shirt, or being crowned Florida’s Lionfish King or Queen.
“To qualify for the statewide lionfish challenge, e-mail a photo of your first 50 lionfish to firstname.lastname@example.org,” said Kali Spurgin, FWC’s Lionfish Outreach Coordinator, in a video. “Be sure to include in the photo something with your date and your signature on it.”
Spurgin adds harvesters can also submit their first 50 at an approved checkpoint. And, if the harvesters have already surpassed 50, the clipped tails of the lionfish must be brought to the checkpoint with a completed form.
“Once you have clipped you lionfish tails, store them in a dry Ziploc bag, labelled with your name, phone number, and date the lionfish were harvested,” she added.
According to the FWC, 19 of the 29 divers involved in the Lionfish Challenge automatically qualified for the Panhandle Pilot Program—where harvesters must remove at least 100. The Lionfish Challenge ends September 30.
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