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Mainly In Fla. Panhandle, Thousands Removed So Far As Part Of Lionfish Removal Challenge

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FWC Screenshot

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 lionfish@fwc.com,” 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.

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.