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Vol. 14 No. 52 - October 22, 2014


Lionfish are exception to no-kill

Carol Whitmore


After Dec. 1, people will no longer be allowed to breed
lionfish in captivity or harvest or possess their eggs for
any purpose other than to destroy them.

The long arm of the law soon will be plunging into your aquarium.

Beginning Dec. 1, you will not be allowed to breed lionfish in captivity or harvest or possess their eggs or larvae for any purpose other than to destroy them.

Think of it as spaying and neutering for fish.

While a SWAT team is unlikely to descend on your home to enforce the rule, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services urges you not to become one of the scores of hobbyists who have set their lionfish free – or flushed them – to roam the wild.

Lionfish are the newest bad guys on the invasive species list, bumping Brazilian peppers and Burmese pythons down a notch since the first prickly specimen was found in Florida waters in 2006.

That’s because the frilly fish are tough on the ecosystem; they love to dine on native fish, including those that are food for commercial and sport fish, which lowers desirable fish populations.

They’re also tough on swimmers. Their spines are venomous, so if you touch one, injuries can range from stinging to infection to paralysis.

Lionfish safari

If you’re willing to take the chance, you can become the predator’s predator from Oct. 3-5 during the Sarasota Lionfish Derby, based at the Bearded Clam, 7150 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. For more information, call 941-587-7206 or e-mail:

But anytime is the right time to bag a lionfish, according to the FWC, which has graciously and permanently lifted ubiquitous bag limits and size limits for the species.

If you catch or spear one, then what?

Handle with care – they can sting when they’re dead – photograph it if you can, and report it at; click on “Report Lionfish,” or download the smart device app at the same address.

Then blacken it, and serve on a bed of Brazilian pepper leaves, maybe with a Burmese python appetizer.

Nesting news

Sea turtles

Nests laid: 260

False crawls: 283

Nests hatched: 221

Hatchlings to Gulf: 18,243

Nest disorientations: 50

Black skimmers

Nests laid: 225

Least terns

Nests laid: 67

Snowy plovers

Nests laid: 5

Source: Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring




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