The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently approved a new opportunity to boost and encourage divers to harvest 10 of the invasive lionfish species by allowing them to take one extra spiny lobster each day during the two-day sport season of lobster mini season that is held on July 29-30, 2015.
***The rule: If you harvest 10 lionfish, you may harvest one extra lobster per day. This rule does not apply if you harvest 20 lionfish; you may not obtain 2 extra lobsters. There is no limit on how many lionfish you harvest so it is encouraged to take as many as possible.
“The FWC operates in a culture of innovation. Opportunities like this are a great way to get divers who are already in the water accustomed to removing lionfish,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski. Our hope is that once lobster divers realize how easy it is to remove lionfish, they will continue to do so throughout the regular lobster season and beyond.”
Lionfish are a species that have invaded our South Florida waters and have negatively impacted our native territories and harvesting by divers is the primary method to control the lionfish population.
Lobster mini-season, which is the two day spiny lobster recreational sport season, falls on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July every year and August 6th is the opening of regular season! The bag limit for spiny lobsters per day is 6, within the state and federal waters of Biscayne National Park waters and off Monroe County. Everywhere else in Florida is a bag limit of 12 spiny lobsters.
There is no bag limit for lionfish and harvesters may take as many as they want. Did you know lionfish are also a great source of nutrition, if cooked the proper way. That means you can have lobsters and lionfish for dinner!
"If this program is successful to encouraging lionfish removal, this opportunity could continue in the future years. In addition, people can take a photo of their lionfish and lobster catch during the two-day season and post it on Facebook.com/LionfishReefRangers to get a “Be the Predator” T-shirt. One lucky photo entrant will also win a lifetime saltwater fishing license via a drawing held shortly after the sport season.”
Help the FWC by reporting all lionfish catches and sightings via the Report Florida Lionfish App or at MyFWC.com/Lionfish.