Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Open Season on Lionfish!

According to Naples News, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has now waived all recreational fishing license requirements for divers harvesting lionfish using pole spears, handheld nets, Hawaiian slings, etc. The new rule also does away with commercial and private bagging limits - meaning you're all encouraged to haul away as many of these beautiful - but disastrously invasive - fish as you can!

They're indigenous to waters around India and China, but now their range is spreading widely out of control. According to Wikipedia (in its typically convoluted multiple-writers pastiche style):

The red lionfish is found off the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean Sea, and was likely first introduced off the Florida coast in the early to mid-1990s. It has been speculated that this introduction may have been caused when Hurricane Andrew destroyed an aquarium in southern Florida, It is also believed that six lionfish were accidentally released in Biscayne Bay, Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. However, a more recent report states National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ecologist James Morris Jr. has discovered that a lionfish was discovered off the coast of south Florida prior to Hurricane Andrew in 1985. It is also believed that the lionfish were purposefully discarded by unsatisfied aquarium enthusiasts. The first documented capture of lionfish in the Atlantic occurred in Dania Beach, Florida. In 2001, NOAA documented multiple sightings of lionfish off the coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Bermuda, and were first detected in the Bahamas in 2004. Recently (June 2013) they have been discovered as far east as Barbados, and as far south as Los Roques Archipelago and many Venezuelan continental beaches.

Although lionfish have poisonous spines, they can in the hands of a skilled fisherman be removed and the fish cleaned and prepared as a delicious meal.

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