Registration opens for 2018 Lionfish challenge

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Lionfish continue to be considered an invasive species.

Lionfish continue to be considered an invasive species.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has opened registration for the 2018 Lionfish Challenge.

This year’s challenge begins on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day on May 19 and runs through September 3. The FWC will hold its Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival and the Lionfish world championship tournament on May 19-20 at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club and Ole River Grill on the Florida/Alabama coastal border. The event will include a benefit concert by Little Texas on Sunday at 5 p.m. It’s presented by the Coast Watch Alliance and Lionfish University.

The 2018 challenge will include a new tagged-lionfish component. An angler who catches a tagged redfish can win up to $5,000.

Non-cash prizes include GoPro cameras, tumblers by Engel Coolers, puncture-resistance gloves by TurtleSkin, towels and more. Registered participants who remove the most lionfish in the recreational and commercial categories will be crowned the 2018 Recreational Lionfish King/Queen and the Commercial Champion.

The goal of the program is to encourage and track removals of invasive species like lionfish.

Sponsors of this year’s challenge include American Sportfishing Association, Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, Boat Owners Association of the United States, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Inc., Dive Rite, Narked Scuba and Lionator Pole Spears.

A video of the 2018 challenge can be seen here.