Divers and snorkelers in Florida will once again sharpen their spears and hone their lionfish hunting skills to compete in the annual REEF Lionfish Derby Series presented by Whole Foods Market. This summer marks 10 years of lionfish derbies, and will feature an exclusive partnership between REEF and Whole Foods Market for six derby events around the state.
Whole Foods Market introduced lionfish to all Florida stores in April 2016, offering the white flaky fish similar to grouper or snapper, which is perfect for those who want a delicious, nutritious and ecoconscious choice. Working in partnership with the local community, Whole Foods Market hopes to make a difference in the lionfish population, protecting our coastal fisheries and reefs for generations to come. We aim to help maintain healthy fish populations, restore ecosystems and build a more sustainable seafood supply for everyone.
“The support of Whole Foods Market in addressing the lionfish problem is a great example of different groups working together to help the planet.” says Lad Akins, REEF’s Director of Special Projects. “We look forward to engaging even more divers and snorkelers in the events this year and removing more lionfish from our coastal waters.” The derby series this year starts in June and includes events in Key Largo, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and Sarasota.
Invasive lionfish are voracious predators from the Indo‐Pacific that threaten Florida’s marine ecosystems by devouring more than 170 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. For more information, visit www.REEF.org/Lionfish.