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June 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 41, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Donít Sign This Lionfish Petition

from the June, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In April, the Emerald Coast Reef Association (ECRA), based in Niceville, FL, put a petition on the popular website titled "Support Lionfish Population Control and the Search for Eradication Methods." It's addressed to Florida State officials and the goal is to remove 5,000 lionfish from the Florida Panhandle in two years or less. It would have its diving volunteers, at their own risk and expense, each kill 100 lionfish and, in return, receive 10 native fish tags, good for in- or out-of-season spearfishing of two each of triggerfish, greater amberjack, red snapper, red grouper and gag grouper. There would be no limit to the number of tags that can be earned.

"Because the number of native fish requested to motivate participation is "biologically insignificant," the motivator will cause no harm to our native fishery or shorten fishing seasons," writes ECRA president Candy Hansard in the petition.

Hold it, says Lad Akins, founder of the nonprofit Reef Environmental Education Foundation. "Giving permission to remove one out-of-season fish for every 10 killed is not going to solve this problem. It is only going to put more pressure on already impacted species (that is why there is a closed season in the first place). Derby programs and ongoing individual diver removal efforts are already removing well over 10,000 lionfish a year." He says the FWC has already come out against this plan, as have many others. The only beneficiaries, he says, will be the spearfishermen who want to take more grouper, snapper, etc., out of season."

So ignore this petition -- there are better ways to get rid of lionfish without having to use other fish as bait for spearfishers.

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