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May is lionfish time: festivals, tournaments, restaurants and more

Media contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-404-6100 or Release Date: 05-03-2021   All Articles Tags:

Join us in celebrating the 7th annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Festival May 15-16 (10 a.m.-5 p.m. CT) at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar and HarborWalk Village in Destin.

The outdoor event is free and open to the public and will feature socially-distant family-friendly activities, art, diving and marine conservation booths, live music, fillet demonstrations, and the world's largest lionfish tournament, the Emerald Coast Open.

Tournament Details

Are you a diver interested in registering for the tournament? The Emerald Coast Open will run May 14-16, and include categories for most lionfish, largest lionfish, and smallest lionfish. For official tournament rules and registration instructions, visit

Lionfish Restaurant Week

Sample lionfish at one of Destin–Fort Walton Beach’s featured restaurants during the Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Restaurant Week. Local chefs will highlight lionfish in unique dishes in the week leading up to the event to help bring awareness to the lionfish invasion in the Gulf of Mexico.


  • Crab Tap Destin – May 9.
  • Marina Café – May 10.
  • Dewey Destin’s Harborside – May 11.
  • La Paz – May 12.
  • Harbor Docks – May 13. 
  • AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar – May 15.

What is LRAD?

To increase public awareness about the lionfish invasion and encourage removal efforts, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) signed a resolution creating Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day in February 2015. Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day is celebrated the first Saturday after Mother’s Day each year. 

Lionfish Challenge

The 2021 Lionfish Challenge is approaching quickly. This summer-long tournament is open to everyone and is completely free to enter. Participants in last year’s Challenge harvested a record of nearly 22,000 lionfish from Florida waters and we want to beat that number again this year. Are you up for the Challenge? Visit to register for the tournament.


Contact the FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554.


Support Florida lionfish control programs by purchasing new Rep Your Water lionfish hats at Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida.