Ban on importing lionfish into Florida takes effect

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A ban on importing live lionfish into Florida is taking effect.

Aquarium shops will be allowed to obtain new lionfish from divers instead.

The ban is one of several changes the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says will reduce the number of lionfish introduced into state waters.

Other changes taking effect Friday will make it easier for lionfish hunters to remove the spiny predators from the water. Now divers can use an air-recycling device called a re-breather while spearfishing for lionfish. Approved tournaments featuring spearfishing for lionfish also will be allowed in certain state parks or refuges where spearfishing is otherwise prohibited.

Experts say lionfish are menacing to native wildlife throughout the Atlantic, where they have no natural predators. The fish have venomous spines, but they are edible.

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