Want to catch some fish and help the environment?
Register for the 2020 Lionfish Challenge and you can help remove an invasive species from Florida waters. You might even be crowned the next Lionfish King or Queen!
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “The lionfish’s notoriety as invaders is on par with zebra mussels, snakeheads, and even Asian carp. Their populations continue to expand, threatening the well-being of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.”
NOAA asserts that a single lionfish can reduce native reef fish by 79 percent on a coral reef, and they feed on the same foods normally consumed by snappers, groupers, “and other commercially important native species.”
That’s bad news for commercial and recreational fisherman, as well as the health and diversity of local reefs.
That’s where the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Lionfish Challenge comes in.
The challenge rewards folks for lionfish “removals” – in other words, catch lionfish, help the environment and local fisheries. The program has helped to remove over 689,000 lionfish from Florida waters since 2014.
Though the usual festival and events associated with the program have been cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic, the challenge is open now and will run through Labor Day, September 7.
Entries can be submitted at multiple checkpoints in Pinellas County, including two in St. Petersburg: Jim’s Dive Shop, 9385 Bay Pines Boulevard, and Pinellas Lionfish Tail 2020, 10344 51st Ave. N.
Read more about the challenge, prizes and requirements here.
Winner of the Lionfish Challenge will be announced at the Lionfish Removal and Awareness Festival in September in Destin, FL. Register and find more information at FWCReefRangers.com/Lionfish-Challenge.
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