Florida wildlife leaders say lionfish are taking over the state's salt waters. They'll gather beginning Tuesday in Cocoa Beach for a three-day summit on the invasive species.
Lionfish were first spotted in Florida waters in the mid-1980s. Since then their population has exploded, and lionfish are found off the US coast from Rhode Island to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
Amanda Nalley of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says in Florida they have no natural predators.
"They'll move onto a reef and basically eat up everything that's on that reef. So not only are they preying on other species, but they're also competing with other predators, especially some of our larger predators, some of our economically important predators such as snapper and grouper."
Nalley says wildlife leaders want a better understanding of their environmental and economic impacts and how to manage them.
The summit is sponsored by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Wildlife Foundation of Florida and Florida Sea Grant. It's open to the public and concludes Thursday.