FORT MYERS, Florida (AP) - State wildlife officials have given final approval to a ban on imports of lionfish for the aquarium trade in Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also has approved methods that make it easier for scuba divers to catch lionfish in the wild. Aquarium shops would be allowed to obtain new lionfish from divers.
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The fish have venomous spines, but they are edible.
The commission gave preliminary approval to the lionfish ban in April. Officials finalized the ban Wednesday at the commission's meeting in Fort Myers. The ban takes effect Aug. 1.
Lionfish are considered as menacing to native wildlife throughout the Atlantic as Burmese pythons are in Florida's Everglades. Both invasive species have thrived far from their native habitats, with no natural predators here to control their populations.