This summer, divers in Florida will once again sharpen their spears, ready their nets, and hone their lionfish hunting skills to compete in REEF’s 2018 Lionfish Derby Series presented by Whole Foods Market®. REEF’s mission: remove as many lionfish as possible. Up for grabs: more than $40,000 in cash and prizes for removing lionfish from our oceans and the knowledge that they are helping to save native Florida fish species.
Invasive lionfish are voracious predators from the Indo‐Pacific that threaten Florida’s marine ecosystems by devouring more than 120 species of our native fish and invertebrates. Defended from predators by 18 venomous spines, lionfish rule the reefs and reproduce as often as every four days, year round. Though lionfish may seem unstoppable, divers and snorkelers can significantly reduce local populations and allow native fish populations to recover. Lionfish derbies serve to educate the public, provide samples for researchers, and encourage market development, on top of removing thousands of ecologically devastating lionfish.
The following dates and locations have been set for REEF’s 2018 Lionfish Derby Series presented by Whole Foods Market®:
• March 31st: Winter Lionfish Derby at Sharkey’s Pub and Galley, Key Largo
• June 8th – 10th: Miami Lionfish Derby at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum*
• July 6th – 8th Sarasota Lionfish Derby at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium*
• July 13th & 14th: Fort Lauderdale Lionfish Derby at 15th Street Fisheries
• August 3rd – 5th: Palm Beach County Lionfish Derby at Loggerhead Marinelife Center*
• August 11th – 13th: Jacksonville Lionfish Derby at Beach Marine*
• September 14th – 16th: Upper Keys Lionfish Derby at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park*
This year’s derby series will also include a number of culinary events (noted by asterisks) with special lionfish tastings, demonstrations, and chef’s competitions. New prize categories this year will include a special golden fish award open to any team that lands at least one fish and a first timer’s awards for teams who are taking part in the series for the first time. Cash awards for 1st through 10th place will be awarded for most lionfish and 1st through 3rd for both largest and smallest lionfish.
In 2017, teams removed over 2,500 lionfish and more than 21,000 lionfish have been removed since the derbies began in 2010. Both divers and snorkelers are invited to compete in removal events and derby festivities are open to the public. Mandatory Captain’s meetings will be held the day before each derby. On derby day, spectators are encouraged to attend and taste free lionfish samples. You can find further information here: www.REEF.org/lionfish/derbies.