Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Updates – September 2012

Fishing license not required when targeting lionfish (Pterois volitans). PHOTO SOURCE: MyFWC.

Florida Recreational fshing license not required when targeting lionfish

Harvesting invasive lionfish no longer will require a fishing license when using certain gear, and there is no recreational or commercial bag limit. The FWC is taking these actions to encourage more Floridians and visitors to harvest lionfish.

“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hopes that by increasing the opportunity for people to harvest invasive lionfish, we can limit the impact this nonnative invasive species has on Florida’s marine fish and wildlife,” said Jessica McCawley, director of the FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management. “We also want to express our gratitude to everyone, especially divers, who already go out on a regular basis to harvest lionfish.”

The changes, enacted by an executive order, apply only through August 2013. They are:

  • A recreational fishing license is not required to target lion sh while using a pole spear, a Hawaiian sling, a handheld net or any spearing device that is specifically designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish.
  • There is no recreational or commercial harvest bag limit for lionfish.

The changes do not allow spearing in areas where spearfishing is prohibited and apply to state waters only, which is from shore to 9 miles in Gulf of Mexico waters and from shore to 3 miles in Atlantic waters. Lionfish are a nonnative invasive species that threatens Florida’s saltwater fish and wildlife. They prey on native fish and wildlife and can reduce native populations. Lionfish also compete for food with native predatory fish such as grouper and snapper. The FWC encourages people to remove lionfish in Florida waters to limit negative impacts to native fish and wildlife.

Lionfish have venomous spines, so the FWC urges careful handling. Unless a person is allergic to the venom, lionfish stings are rarely fatal. Anyone getting stung should immerse the wound in hot (not scalding) water or apply heat to the affected area for 30 to 90 minutes to help break down the toxin. Also, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Spearfishers should also take care not to damage the important reef habitat where lionfish often are found.

More information regarding lionfish is available at MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations,” then “Lionfish.”

FWC workshop to teach women outdoor skills

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will hold a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) three-day workshop Oct. 19-21 at the Everglades Youth Camp in the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area (near West Palm Beach).

The program offers a fun and supportive atmosphere for participants wishing to try new things and enjoy the camaraderie of other women wanting to do the same. In four, three-and-one-half-hour sessions, the BOW workshop teaches some of the basic skills associated with fishing, hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation (canoeing and kayaking, reading the woods, geocaching and GPS, shooting sports, camping and backpacking, deer hunting, small game hunting, outdoor photography, wilderness first aid, map and compass, panfishing, fly fishing, bird watching, personal safety, shotguns, bass fishing, turkey hunting, hunter safety course, muzzleloaders, bowhunting and knot tying), at all levels of physical activity, with hands-on experience.

The cost for the three-day workshop is $200, and there are half-price slots available for low-income participants, single parents and college students attending the workshop for the first time. There is also a $50 early bird discount for participants who register by Sept. 19. The workshop is restricted to 100 people on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information about the BOW workshop or how you can register, visit MyFWC.com/BOW or call Lynne Hawk at 561-625-5122.