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The American Sportfishing Association (ASA), along with other fishing and boating industry leaders and organizations, presented the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) with funding to support the 2018 tagged-lionfish removal incentive program.

Photo, from left to right: Andy Walker, president and CEO Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida; FWC Commissioners Richard Hanas, Bo Rivard, ASA’s Kellie Ralston, Robert Spottswood, Mike Sole and Sonya Rood

The program rewards harvesters who find and remove previously tagged lionfish from waters around the state of Florida. ASA’s $5,000 contribution is part of an overall $25,000 donation presented at the start of the three-day meeting being held in Gainesville, Fla.

Lionfish are a nonnative invasive species that can reduce native fish populations and negatively affect the overall reef habitat.

About the 2018 Tagged-Lionfish Removal Program

This program will run May 19, through Sept. 3, 2018, and will coincide with the annual summer-long Lionfish Challenge, which rewards recreational and commercial lionfish harvesters with prizes for submitting their lionfish removal efforts.

The goal of the 2018 tagged-lionfish removal program is to increase statewide removal efforts by giving divers a greater incentive to harvest lionfish more often while in search of the valuable tagged fish. Additional non-cash prizes are also available for those that harvest and submit a tagged lionfish. The program will also provide FWC with valuable data on the movement of lionfish.

Approximately six to eight lionfish will be tagged at each of the 50 randomly-selected public artificial reef sites throughout the Atlantic and Gulf between the depths of 80 and 120 feet.

Additional information about the rules and requirements of the tagged-lionfish removal program will be announced in early 2018