Methods to Reduce Lionfish Population Assessed

Best methods to control Lionfish assessed.


Like many invasive species, the Red Lionfish is nice to look at, reproduces prolifically, has few natural predators and preys on native species. A few examples of similar invasive marine activity are witnessed in the Cuban Tree Frog, Asian Swamp Eel, and Suckermouth Catfish. These aquatic animals were introduced to Florida either intentionally or by accident, and have since established themselves by displacing native species. As for the Lionfish, their voracious, carnivorous appetite includes a menu of more than 70 species of fish, some with great economic and recreational importance.

As the populations of Lionfish have grown larger in Florida's Gulf waters over the past few years, scientists, divers, anglers and environmentalists have been working on identifying methods to control those burgeoning Lionfish populations, which are very destructive.

These efforts range from so-called Lionfish Rodeos, to hook-and-line pursuits, and also include studying the few natural aquatic predators that consume Lionfish, such as some grouper species and sharks. Restaurants have also been putting the tasty Lionfish on their menus. The poster below -- created and published by University of Florida scientist Alexandra Tsalickis -- shows which efforts are working the best and what methods are being evaluated for usage.

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As the poster shows, no methods have been developed yet that could be considered "highly effective." If someone invents and patents a Lionfish trap that also limits bycatch, they'll likely be rich.

2,500 Using New Lionfish App

See or catch a lionfish? Report it. That's what many lionfish hunters have been doing, thanks to the new Report Florida Lionfish app. Released to the public May 28, the app has been downloaded by more than 2,500 people. The first 250 to successfully report their lionfish catch or sighting received an interactive Lionfish Control Team T-shirt. The logo on these shirts is designed to come to life on your smartphone.

In addition to the app, data can also be submitted online at MyFWC.com/Lionfish by clicking on "Report Lionfish."

Lionfish are an invasive species that negatively impact Florida's reefs and wildlife.

The Report Florida Lionfish app includes educational information on lionfish and safe handling guidelines, as well as an easy-to-use data-reporting form so divers and anglers can share with the FWC information about their sighting or harvest. App users also can take and share a photo of their catch. These photos may be used in future publications or social media efforts.

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The FWC will use the data to help identify sites where targeted lionfish removal might be most beneficial. All data will be available to the public and shared with other groups and agencies collecting this kind of information.

Several users have submitted ideas on how to improve the app, and the FWC is looking into implementing those changes, including allowing users to submit using a photograph that is already on their smart device and adding fields for smallest and largest catch.

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Learn more about the new app, T-shirt and interactive logo by watching a video online. Missed your opportunity to receive a Lionfish T-shirt? These shirts will also be given out at various lionfish-related events, such as derbies, across the state.

Learn more about lionfish at FWC

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The Online Fisherman

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