Florida tournament hopes to reduce the number of lionfish, an invasive species, in the Gulf of Mexico.
A large number of divers took to the waters this past weekend as part of a spearfishing tournament effort to reduce the number of lionfish in Florida waters.
The tournament was the 35th in the state this season as the Florida Wildlife Commission pushes for more communities to do their own mass culling of the spiny fish.
Many jobs are threatened in the Florida fishing industries as a result of the spiny lionfish.
“It’s probably the single largest threat to the fishing industry within Florida,” Keith Overton, the president of a resort and grill told reporters.
“They wipe out species in our game fish collection which is important to the restaurant industry, the seafood industry and Florida’s identity in many ways.”
The big problem is that other fish aren’t eating the lionfish because of their poisonous spines. And since female lionfish can lay up to two million eggs, their population is exploding.
For now, divers will have to continue to take out as many of the fish as they can in fishing derbies. “USA Today” reports that 30,000 lionfish have been taken in tournaments already this year.