Today, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is announcing the winners of the 2017 Lionfish Challenge. A total of 26,321 lionfish were removed from Florida waters as part of the four-month challenge.
Ken Ayers Jr. of Panama City took home the recreational Lionfish King award with a total of 1,250 lionfish harvested. Joshua Livingston of Destin became Florida’s first Commercial Champion for his efforts in removing 4,560 pounds of lionfish (poundage equates to about 5,027 fish). On top of other prizes earned throughout the Challenge, the two winners were presented with a custom-made Fish Bone Design trophy and a “No Shoes Reefs” Engel 85 cooler.
A total of 120 recreational and commercial harvesters participated in the statewide lionfish removal incentive program, which ran from Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day May 20 (first Saturday after Mother’s Day annually) through Sept. 4.
A total of 8,901 lionfish were removed by recreational participants, and another 15,800 pounds were removed commercially (poundage equates to about 17,420 lionfish).
The FWC thanks all of those who participated in this year’s Lionfish Challenge. This program could not have been possible without the help of the 34 dive shops that served as checkpoints for recreational submissions and the generous support of the following sponsors: Engel Coolers, ZombieStickz Lionfish Eliminator and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.
While this year’s Lionfish Challenge may be over, there are still plenty of other great programs that encourage lionfish removal. Check out the new and improved Reef Rangers website (ReefRangers.com), which launched in early September. Participants that adopt a reef soon will receive a Reef Rangers Lionfish Control Team T-shirt and tank sticker.
Learn more about lionfish and this program at MyFWC.com/Lionfish.