FWC encourages people to remove lionfish in Florida waters to limit negative impacts to native fish and wildlife. Lionfish can be speared, caught in hand-held nets or caught on hook and line.
FWC recently made changes that will increase lionfish harvesting opportunities. Read the new Executive Order on lionfish harvesting.
These changes are currently in effect through Aug. 2013 and include:
- A recreational fishing license is not required for recreational fishers targeting lionfish 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.
- A recreational fishing license (unless exempt) is required for all other methods of harvesting lionfish including hook and line.
- The sale of commercial harvest of lionfish requires a saltwater products license.
Divers should know the rules for using spears. Spears may not be used:
- Within 100 yards of a public swimming beach, any commercial or public fishing pier, or any part of a bridge from which public fishing is allowed;
- Within 100 feet of any part of a jetty that is above the surface of the sea - except for the last 500 yards of a jetty that extends more than 1,500 yards from the shoreline;
- In Collier County and in Monroe County from Long Key north to the Miami-Dade County line;
- In any body of water under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks (Florida Park Service). Possession of spearfishing equipment is prohibited in these areas, unless it is unloaded and properly stored.
- Harvest by other means, such as hand-held nets, is allowed in all of these situations.
- There are general saltwater regulations that apply to the harvest of all marine species, including lionfish. These regulations prohibit the use of certain gear such as explosives, fish traps and certain nets, and prohibit the harvest of fish while using a rebreather.
- A permit is required to harvest lionfish in the no-take zones of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Permits are issued by the Sanctuary following training given by the Sanctuary and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).
Lionfish should be handled carefully; they have venom glands on the dorsal, pelvic and anal spines.
- NOAA recommends treating a puncture wound by immersing the wound area in hot (not scalding) water for 30-90 minutes and to seek medical attention as soon as possible. The Poison Help Hotline, 800-222-1222, is available 24 hours a day, every day.
- Unless a person is allergic to the venom, lionfish stings are very rarely fatal. Stings can be very painful, cause numbness, swelling and even temporary paralysis.