Lionfish were first reported off Florida’s Atlantic Coast back in 1985. And since the mid 2000s, the number being reported has increased rapidly, and they're now being spotted all the way to the northern Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola. Lionfish are an invasive species that has a potential negative impact on native species and habitat. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has been encouraging people to remove as many lionfish from Florida waters as possible to help limit those negative impacts.
The FWC is kicking off its fifth annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Festival this weekend in Destin Florida. And the 2019 Lionfish Challenge removal incentive program kicks off this Saturday and runs through Labor Day. Participants who submit the largest and smallest lionfish may be eligible to receive up to $3,000 in cash prizes. We learn about the festival, the removal program, and lionfish in general with Amanda Nalley, she’s a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management.