Help Eradicate Lionfish from Florida Waters
-Lionfish currently have no significant predators in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico
-They consume a wide variety of fish and invertebrates
-They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, salinities and depth
-Eighteen of their spines can cause painful wounds
-They have free floating egg masses that are distributed by ocean currents and can release up to 30,000 eggs per spawn
-Are able to consume prey that are more than half of their own length
-Were introduced to Florida coast water about thirty years ago, it is unknown who, but it is likely that an aquarium release occurred
Lionfish harvesting by recreational and commercial divers is currently the best means of controlling lionfish and minimizing unwanted ecological impacts. They can be speared, caught in hand-held nets or caught on hook and line. There are no minimum size limits, closed seasons or bag limits and a license is not required when using dip nets, pole spears, Hawaiian slings or any spearing devise designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish. The practice of feeding lionfish to other predatory species while diving should be avoided because it is dangerous and illegal in state waters.
Lionfish is a very good source of food. Fillets are firm, white and flaky with a very mild non-fishy taste that is comparable to flounder, black sea bass or hogfish. The spines of the lionfish do contain venomous tissue, the flesh is not. A few Florida restaurants are now serving limited amounts of harvested lionfish.
When filleting lionfish, use caution to avoid the spines located along the dorsal, pelvic and anal fins. If you get stung while diving, remain calm, allow small punctures to bleed, notify dive leader/buddy, safely end your dive and begin first aid. At the surface, rinse the wound with clean water, remove any foreign materials, control bleeding, soak wound in non-scalding water for 30 minutes. Monitor vital signs while en route to a professional medical evaluation.
You can report lionfish sighting by downloading the Report Florida Lionfish App on your smart device or by visiting www.myfwc.com/fishing and clicking on Saltwater, then recreational regulations and then lionfish.
Information provided by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Divers Alert Network