Lionfish Are Spreading Through Florida Waters (UPDATED)

Categories: Animal Planet
lionfish 114.jpg

It's official.

The lionfish have arrived.

While fishing off the Naples shoreline, an angler snagged a 16-pounder last week.

The fish originally made its first appearance in the waters off the Florida Keys in 2009. Now, it appears to be spreading.

Native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, lionfish have no natural predators in Atlantic waters, so they've been able to swim worry-free off our coast, rummaging through our oceans like that guy no one ever met whom your uncle brought over for Thanksgiving last year and who ate all the stuffing. Lionfish have been eating all the lobster and preying on food that would normally go to our native fish, such as snapper and smaller fish. These little bastards eat everything. And that's killing our local ecosystem.

Lionfish are part of the scorpionfish family; have red, white, and black stripes; and have venomous spikes. Their venom isn't deadly (unless you're allergic to it), but they sting like a bitch.

Some believe that lionfish were introduced into Atlantic waters back in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew struck Miami and broke an aquarium containing the fish, releasing them into Biscayne Bay. It's also probable that owners of the fish just got tired of them and illegally released them into local waters.

lionfish444.jpg

They have a quick reproduction rate and spawn pretty much all-year round, which makes eradicating them no easy feat.

In an effort to get more people involved in taking out lionfish, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced that one no longer needs a fishing license to catch one (when wearing certain gear). People are also highly encouraged to rub the fish out, to contribute to its eradication from Florida waters.

However, FWC regulations also prohibit the taking of certain species by use of a spearing device, and that law, for some reason, extends to lionfish.

According to a study by the University of Florida, it's pretty unlikely lionfish will be completely eradicated from our waters.  But, according to Mickie Anderson, a science writer at the university, it may be "possible to keep them under control -- in specific, targeted areas and using plenty of manpower."

As for the FWC rule change: You can target lionfish while using a pole spear, a Hawaiian sling, a handheld net, or any spearing device specifically designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish. You can also bag and kill as many as you want.

UPDATED: As per an email from Amanda Nalley, FWC Marine Fisheries Division:

"It is legal to harvest lionfish using any kind of spear in Florida waters so long as you follow the spearfishing rules such as no spearfishing within 100 yards of a public swimming beach. There is a "no spearfishing" rule as well for state waters in Collier County. That extends to all species, not just lionfish. As for the not needing a license, that only extends to those using the gear you listed, but that does not mean that a licensed spearfisher cannot target lionfish. They can."






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8 comments
JoeDiver
JoeDiver

I get the point, but it just a bad article... At least they update the web version....

Quote:

There is a "no spearfishing" rule as well for state waters in Collier County. That extends to all species, not just lionfish.

-Collier county is naples/marco.  just not many reefs over there, until you go out 20+ miles (federal waters).

but its again, a foolish rule. if the DERM / FWC wanted to, they would amend the rules and just say its legal to spear lionfish anywhere other than 100 yds of a public beach.

 I would bet they are in the mangroves eating... but nobody I knows would dive there anyway. (no vis), and gators!  


I hear they are actually very good eating...  which might be the best solution. 


(but all the ones I've shot were small, not worth taking/cleaning)

 

 

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

I think people are missing the point of this article.  They dont care HOW you kill them as long as your not using chemicals or anything that may aid in the destruction of reefs, just as long as you kill them.

JoeDiver
JoeDiver

quote:

As for the FWC rule change: You can target lionfish while using a pole spear, a Hawaiian sling, a handheld net, or any spearing device specifically designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish. You can also bag and kill as many as you want.

I guess the only thing that makes sense is no fishing license is required, so you have to add this clause so someone doesn't shoot a fish that they think is a lion fish, but in not.  (nassau grouper, gag, or lobsters)  

I can't imaging FWC giving anyone a problem using a normal speargun, but its the Government... they are here to help!  bhhhaaa...


JoeDiver
JoeDiver

I made my own small pole spear.  

aluminum tube, and steel rod, with surgical tube at the end.  small and light, strapped to my tank. 


So, I need to declare this is my lionfish spear.....   and my modified AB biller gun is also for lion fish, since I say so...  it won't work on anything else... its magic.  shazam! 


-FWC how dumb is this rule?

JoeDiver
JoeDiver

http://www.lionfishderby.com/docs/pdf/2012LionfishderbyrulesPBC.pdf

rules:

2) Lionfish
may
be
taken
by
pole-­‐spear,
Hawaiian
sling,
(Lion-­‐tamers,
or
other
spearing
devices)
spear
gun,
lobster
hooks,
hand
net,
hook
&
line,
or
collection
bag.
No
chemicals,
or
other
collecting
mechanisms
are
allowed.
3) Teams
will
be
limited
to
4
persons.
To
qualify
for
prizes,
participants
must
be
registered
and
show
proper
identification.
All
participants
must
sign
a
Legal
Waiver
Form
to
be
considered
registered
in

 

JoeDiver
JoeDiver

old news, and except for the mis information, not bad.... BUT


"However, FWC regulations also prohibit the taking of certain species by use of a spearing device, and that law, for some reason, extends to lionfish."

YOU CAN SPEAR LION FISH, ALL DAY ANY DAY.  

why would the writer add this detail, when its misleading... -you can't spear lobster, but this story is NOT about Lobster..  

 

chrisjoseph13
chrisjoseph13 writer

@JoeDiver Yes, you can. BUT... As per the FWC: with any spearing device that is specifically designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish.

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