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Environment

Florida's 'Lionfish Challenge' Targets Invasive Species

Pterois (lionfish) underwater
momo11353/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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iStockphoto
Pterois (lionfish) underwater

In 2018, legislators approved a law that set up a program to target invasive species including pythons, tegu lizards and lionfish.

More than 21,500 lionfish were removed from state waters in just over five months through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s fifth-annual “Lionfish Challenge.”

The total of 21,569 fish caught between May 22 and Nov 1 was down from the 23,451 lionfish removed in the 2019 challenge and a record 28,260 lionfish caught when the event was held in 2018.

The state commission has been using the challenge to target the invasive species.

This year, with prizes including dive computers and dive cameras, David Connerth of Palm Beach County took top honors in the recreational field by removing 1,141 lionfish, according to the commission.

On the commercial side, Isidoro Bedoya of Duval County was credited with catching 1,196.5 pounds of lionfish.

he state sets no minimum size or daily bag limit on lionfish, which can be caught year-round.

In 2018, legislators approved a law that set up a program to target invasive species including pythons, tegu lizards and lionfish.

Under the program, the commission can enter contracts with people to capture or destroy the species on public lands and in state waters.

The commission is required to submit a report to the governor and legislative leaders by January 2021.