Lionfish are an invasive species that have a negative impact on native wildlife and habitat. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages divers, anglers, and commercial harvesters to remove them in Florida waters to limit negative impacts to native marine life and ecosystems.
Now is the time to register for the 2020 Lionfish Challenge! The Lionfish Challenge is statewide incentive program that rewards harvesters for their lionfish removals. With a tiered system, everybody can be a winner. The participant who harvests the most lionfish will be crowned the Lionfish King/Queen. The Challenge is open now and will run through Labor Day (Sept. 7). Register online at FWCReefRangers.com at any time.
There are two categories: recreational (number of lionfish) and commercial (pounds of lionfish). Participants with an active Saltwater Products License and lionfish sales within the last year will automatically be included in the commercial category. The recreational category is open to all divers who do not have a SPL.
The Challenge has a tiered prize system that allows everyone to be rewarded for their removals. The more removals, the more prizes you win. To qualify for the Challenge, harvesters must collect 20 lionfish (recreational) or 20 pounds of lionfish (commercial). Once those initial lionfish have been submitted, the participant will receive a commemorative 2020 Lionfish Challenge Coin and Dri-Fit long sleeve T-shirt.
How to Qualify
The first 20 lionfish must be submitted to the FWC Lionfish Team via photo of all lionfish laid out so they can be counted. The photo must include the harvesters name, date of harvest (shown on phone or dive computer) and their signature. After the qualifying tier has been met, the harvester must submit their lionfish tails with their information (harvester name, date of harvest and signature) to a verified checkpoint. A 2020 FWC Lionfish Challenge Submission form must be filled out and sent to Lionfish@MyFWC.com.
The Treasure Coast has three checkpoints so far, two in Martin County and one in St. Lucie County:
Deep Six Dive & Watersports – 2525 NW Federal Highway, Stuart, FL 34994
Stuart Dive Shop- 3317 SE Federal Highway, Stuart, FL 33497
Dive Odyssea- 621 N 2nd Street, Fort Pierce, FL 34950
Lionfish Challenge Features
Bi-weekly raffles will be held and all qualified participants will be eligible to win.
A new component this year will be monthly Mini-Challenges. The winners will be announced each month and rewarded with substantial prizes.
The winners of the Lionfish Challenge will be announced at the Lionfish Removal and Awareness Festival on Sept. 11-13 at the HarborWalk Village in Destin, FL. You can register for the 2020 Lionfish Challenge and find more information at FWCReefRangers.com/Lionfish-Challenge. Questions regarding the challenge can be sent to Lionfish@MyFWC.com.