Lionfish harvests encouraged, Florida makes it easier to catch the invasive species

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — State wildlife officials are trying to make it easier to catch lionfish in Florida waters.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced Monday that no fishing license is required when bagging lionfish using pole spears, handheld nets, Hawaiian slings or other devices specifically designed for bringing in lionfish.

Also, there's no recreational or commercial bag limit for lionfish for the next year.

Conservation commission official Jessica McCawley says the state is hoping to reduce the lionfish's impact on native Florida fish and wildlife.

Lionfish have no natural reef predators and compete for food and habitat against domestic species such as grouper and snapper. The fish belong in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Lionfish have venomous spines but they are edible. However, they might harbor toxins and the FDA says eating them might be risky.

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Online: http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/marine-species/lionfish/

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