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Lionfish Import Ban Among New FWC Rules Taking Effect Friday

Amanda Nalley
FWC's Flickr account

A new rule banning the importation of lionfish is among several new regulationsaimed at combating the invasive species set to take effect Friday.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says the goal behind making it illegal to import lionfish from out of state in the aquarium trade is to help prevent any further introduction of the spiny fish into Florida waters.

“Therefore, we’ll have people in the water going and removing these lionfish—particularly smaller lionfish—that might not be good for use in the food fishery, for example,” said Nalley. “It might not be good to sell for eating later. And, these lionfish will then be sold into the aquarium trade for uses, like people’s pets and other aquariums.”

Other rules make it easier for lionfish spearfishers by removing limitations on gear that allows dives to stay in the water for a longer period of time. And, through a permit system, spearfishing lionfish will now be allowed in areas where spearfishing is not currently not allowed.

“We have certain areas of Florida where you’re not allowed to spear at all. It could be due to safety issues,” added Nalley. “There are certain state parks that do not allow spearing. What we’ve done is we’re creating a permit system that will allow people to go into those areas during organized events, such as tournaments, and spear and remove lionfish and other nonnatives.”

Lionfish, introduced to Florida waters more than 30 years ago, negatively affect native wildlife and have no natural predators to control its growing population.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.