Catching lionfish leads to lobster rewards
For last year’s lobster mini season, Florida Fish and Wildlife allowed one extra lobster per day for every 10 lionfish collected per day. This year, the rule has changed a little bit, but the extra lobster is still up for grabs if lionfish harvesters can produce 50 lionfish before the July 27-28 sport days.
“You can get an extra lobster per day, per coinholder,” said Amanda Nalley of FWC Marine Fisheries Management Community Relations. “We want to encourage people to remove the invasive lionfish as much as possible.”
To get the coin, a picture of 50 lionfish can be sent to Lionfish@MyFWC.com with a piece of paper next to the fish that includes the name of the harvester, the date harvested and the harvester’s signature with the mailing address in the email.
“It takes about a week to get the coin, so this needs to be done sooner than later,” Nalley said. There are also checkpoints where tails of the lionfish can be taken, which include Diver’s Direct in Key Largo and Key West, Underseas on Big Pine Key, Finz Dive Center on Stock Island, and Tilden’s in Marathon. Other than receiving the mailed coin, the only other place to get a coin is at Diver’s Direct in Key Largo at MM 100 the weekend before lobster mini season from FWC staff members on site.
Collection lionfish also enters catchers into FWC’s Lionfish Challenge where recreational divers throughout Florida are competing to be crowned the lionfish king or queen. See Box for tournament information.
Remove 50 or more lionfish by the end of September and get entered in the FWC’s Lionfish Challenge. Rewards include a commemorative coin and Lionfish Hall of Fame recognition, plus raffle prizes ranging from fishing licenses to dive tank refills. The winner will be crowned Florida’s Lionfish King or Queen, receive a lifetime saltwater fishing license, and have his or her photograph featured on the cover of the FWC’s magazine. Visit myfwc.com for details.
Lobster & Lionfish Tourney
Tilden’s Scuba Center in Marathon is holding its annual Spines and Spiny tournament again during mini season. Proceeds will benefit cancer fighter Cathy McCoy and Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys. Hunters will weigh in lobsters and lionfish for sweet dive swag. Sign up is $30 and includes a hat. To sign up, swing by Tilden’s at 4650 Overseas Highway in Marathon.
This lionfish coin will allow lobster divers to take one extra lobster per day. Read here to see how to get one.