ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is calling out anyone who likes to fish to see if they are up for a challenge!
The FWC announced its 2023 Lionfish Challenge tournament set from June 1 to Oct. 1. Competitors across the Sunshine State will compete to remove as many lionfish as they can. Last year, more than 165,000 lionfish were removed, according to the FWC.
"As we kick off the eighth year of the Lionfish Challenge, our goal remains the same: remove as many lionfish as we can in just four months." FWC officials wrote in a news release. "Are you up for the Challenge?"
Lionfish are an invasive species that have a potential negative impact on native species and habitats, the FWC says on its website. They eventually made their way to the Gulf but were first reported off Florida's Atlantic Coast near Dania Beach in 1985.
FWC says the lionfish are predatory reef fish that eat native fish, which can reduce the native population and have negative effects on the overall reef habitat and health.
The agency encourages people to remove lionfish from Florida water all year round.
Here are the tournament details from FWC to keep in mind:
The tournament will start Thursday, June 1, and run through Oct. 1.
Participants will compete in either the commercial or the recreational division, with grand prizes to the top competitor in each division.
According to FWC, prizes will be awarded in tiers.
- Tier 1 - Harvest 25 lionfish (recreational category) or 50 pounds of lionfish (commercial category).
- Tier 2 - Harvest 75 lionfish (recreational category) or 250 pounds of lionfish (commercial category).
- Tier 3 - Harvest 250 lionfish (recreational category) or 500 pounds of lionfish (commercial category).
- Tier 4- Harvest 500 lionfish (recreational category) or 1000 pounds of lionfish (commercial category)
Click here to read the full tournament rules or to register.