The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) met in Jupiter, Florida and determined to approve a two part invasive lionfish plan to encourage to remove the species.
As many people who live in Florida know and understand the potential negative impacts the invasive species in putting on our wildlife and native habitats. The FWC is encouraging divers and anglers to help remove from the Florida waters whenever it is possible.
“Innovative programs like these are a great way to generate public involvement and interest in controlling the lionfish population,” said FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski. “Those that remove lionfish not only get rewarded for their efforts, but they also get the experience of helping manage Florida’s fisheries. In addition, involving Florida’s residents and visitors helps us gather better data to continuously evaluate and improve our approach to invasive species control.”
The two part program consists of the Statewide Program and The Panhandle Pilot Program:
To qualify for the statewide program, anyone participating must remove 50 or more lionfish between Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (May 14, 2016) and the end of September. Anyone who qualifies will receive a honoring coin to mark the membership and a T-shirt, also will be featered in the FWC Lionfish Hall of Fame on the MyFWC.com website and be featured in drawings to win big prizes AND have the opportunity to take an additional spiny lobster per day during the two day Mini Season (July 27-28).
“The Panhandle Pilot Program will focus on lionfish removal efforts off Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties, where lionfish can be found in high densities. For every 100 lionfish harvested from this seven-county region between May 2016 and May 2017, the harvester will be eligible to receive a tag allowing them to take either a legal-sized red grouper or a legal-sized cobia that is over the bag limit from state waters. The state will issue 100 red grouper and 30 cobia tags in total to successful participants in the pilot program. In addition, any person or group that harvests 500 or more lionfish during this one-year period will be given the opportunity to name an artificial reef.”