Thank you for raising awareness about the issue of invasive lionfish! I work for NOAA's where we have been working closely with the dive community since before the first lionfish was captured in the Keys in Jan 2009. With our local partners we have trained almost 300 divers in safe handling and collection techniques, and continue to train individuals and support diver-based control efforts.
I thought you, and possibly your blog readers, might be interested in the second annual Florida Keys lionfish tournaments which are kicking off in three weeks. Last year the inaugural series of three round-ups captured more than 660 lionfish — the largest of which was ~12" and the smallest ~5cm. Your blog post from Nov 2010 links to the Wall Street Journal article on tournaments last year.
I would greatly appreciate any help you could provide in spreading the word about these tournaments.
The press release on the 2011 derbies may be found online at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/press/2011/pr041911.html
Photos from last year's Key West derby may be downloaded from http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/news/weeklynews/nov10/lionfish-hunt.html
Video from last year's Key West derby may be downloaded from http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/news/weeklynews/apr11/2011lionfishhunt.html
May 14, 2011: Fiesta Key Resort,
August 20, 2011: Coconuts Restaurant,
November 5, 2011: Hurricane Hole Marina and Restaurant, Key West, FL
For more information, or to register online, visit http://www.reef.org/lionfish/derbies. Registration for teams of up to four divers is $120, and gets you a pair of puncture resistant gloves or a clear dry bag, and two awards banquet tickets.
Prizes for the top three teams in each category:
Most lionfish: $1,000 cash, $500 cash, $250 Divers Direct Gift Certificate
Biggest lionfish: $500 cash, $200 cash, $100 Divers Direct Gift Certificate
Smallest lionfish: $500 cash, $200 cash, $100 Divers Direct Gift Certificate
All lionfish must be captured from the waters of the sanctuary on the day of the derby. Mandatory captains’ meeting held the evening prior to each derby will feature a briefing on safe capture and handle techniques. The derby will conclude with a lionfish tasting and awards banquet. View derby rules online athttp://www.reef.org/reef_files/2011FLKeysDerbyRules.pdf
Local hotels and boat rental companies are offering discounts to lionfish derby participants. For discounts for the May 14 derby, visithttp://www.reef.org/lionfish/derbies/MiddleKeysInfo
Safe diving and thanks again for bringing attention to this invasive fish,
-- ----------------------------------------------- Karrie Carnes Communications Coordinator Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary ( ) (w) (c) (f) www.floridakeys.noaa.gov www.facebook.com/floridakeysnoaagov