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Saturday Marks FWC Lionfish Challenge Kickoff, Lionfish Removal And Awareness Day

Tim Donovan
FWC's Flickr

This Saturday is not only Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, it’s also the kick off for Florida’s Lionfish Challenge—an incentive program to encourage people to remove the nonnative species. State wildlife officials are doing a bit of a revamp this year.

Lionfish Challenge

During last year’s Lionfish Challenge, more than 16,000 lionfish were removed from Florida waters. This year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hoping for even more removals. And, FWC spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says what’s new this year is lionfish hunters can participate in either a recreational or commercial category.

“Remove 25 lionfish or 25 pounds if you’re a commercial harvester, and you can submit that information to us via photo and basically, it will allow you to get prizes for your lionfish removal,” she said. “The initial prize that you can get is a commemorative coin with a lionfish on it, you can take an additional spiny lobster during the two-day sports season, which is coming up in July.”

The lionfish challenge ends Labor Day, September 4th. On that day, the commercial champion will be honored, and the lionfish king or queen will be crowned in the recreational category. For more information or to register, visit myFWC.com/lionfish.

Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day

Over the weekend, thousands are expected to take part in Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day. Last year, more than 7,000 people converged on Pensacola for its two-day festival and tournament. Other cities around the state are having similar events as well. Nalley says it’s all part of her agency’s ongoing effort to get rid of lionfish and educate people on the invasive species that can have a negative impact on wildlife.

“If you learn about lionfish, make sure you tell other people about it,” she added. “If you haven’t tried it, it’s a delicious fish. But, our big thing is trying to get people aware of lionfish and get people interested in eating them and removing them and making sure that they are being responsible pet owners.”

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.