The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will celebrate its first Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day wtih a weekend of events across the state, starting Saturday, May 16, including a festival in Pensacola.
Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (established to be the first Saturday after Mother’s Day each year) was created by FWC Commissioners to help draw attention to the lionfish issue. Lionfish are a nonnative, invasive species that have a potential negative impact on native species and habitat.
“We are thankful to all the groups that helped organize the Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival and Tournament in Pensacola as well as all those who are hosting their own events across the state,” said FWC Commissioner Bo Rivard. “These efforts will help ensure we keep the lionfish issue on the forefront of everyone’s thoughts and minds.”
The FWC encourages all divers to remove as many lionfish on the weekend of May 16-17, no matter where they are in Florida.
The FWC also will unveil its Reef Ranger program this same weekend.
Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival and Tournament, Pensacola at Plaza de Luna, 900 S. Palafox St., Pensacola, on May 16-17.
This event will include celebrity chef demonstrations, lionfish tastings, fillet demos, a visit from world famous artist and marine conservationist Guy Harvey, family-friendly activities such as games and a fountain to play in, and more than 40 art, diving and conservation vendors; there will also be music, food and tons of helpful lionfish information.
The festival starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. each day. Updates will be provided from various other events across the state.
Want to participate in the tournament? Visit the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition (GCLC) webpage at Gulfcoastlionfish.com/lionfish_events to learn more or visit its Facebook page at Facebook.com/gulfcoastlionfishcoalition. GCLC is offering prize money for a number of categories, as well as chances to win great prizes with raffle tickets. Come by to check out the researchers counting and filleting fish.
Meanwhile . . .
The exotic lionfish is spreading up the Atlantic coast and along the Gulf coast, as well as throughout the Caribbean. A potential world record recently was caught off the coast of Mississippi.