Temporary changes making it easier for divers to help control the lionfish population will be put into Florida rule soon.
At its June 12 meeting in Lakeland, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) adopted changes that will waive the recreational license requirement for divers harvesting lionfish using certain gear and exclude lionfish from the commercial and recreational bag limits, allowing people to take as many of the invasive fish as they can.
Prior to the change, recreational anglers could not catch more than 100 pounds of lionfish without being required to have a commercial license.
Specific gear that can be used to target lionfish without the requirement of a recreational license includes hand-held nets, pole spears, Hawaiian slings or any other spearing devices designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish.
An identical executive order was put into place in August 2012 and is set to expire Aug. 3. The newly adopted rule will take effect before the executive order expires, so there will be no lapse in the expanded permissions.
Lionfish are a nonnative, invasive species that negatively impact Florida's native saltwater fish and wildlife. Currently, the most effective method of removing lionfish from Florida waters is by spearing or using a hand-held net. Removing the license requirements and bag limits will increase lionfish harvest opportunities.