FWC could offer incentives for catching lionfish

Posted at 7:41 PM, Apr 13, 2016

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission could soon be offering new incentives to fishermen who catch lionfish.

Amanda Nalley is part of the Division of Marine Fisheries Management with the FWC. She says the goal is to expand on last year's program and make it better.

"There's no way that we're going to eradicate this population. What we're really trying to focus on is awareness and control of this population," she said.

Through the proposed plan, which commissioners approved during the FWC meeting Wednesday, people who catch 50 lionfish would be part of a club that receives prizes and other incentives.

Those incentives include an extra lobster each day during mini season and an extra bag during scallop season.

"I think if they go on multiple trips, they'll be able to build up to 50. It's  fun. It's a great opportunity to go out there and harvest something and get it out of the water," Dan Ellinor of the FWC added.

But some fishermen say it's not easy to catch that many lionfish.

"I think catching 50 of anything is a bit of a struggle and the thing with lionfish you've got to remember is they hurt if they stick you," Rob Hofmann said.

Rob works at Jupiter Outdoor Center but likes to fish at least once a month. He added that every time he goes fishing, he spots a lionfish.

"They're everywhere. They're established," he said.

He added that the FWC should lower the quota for incentives, and also urges other agencies and businesses to offer incentives for catching the invasive fish.

"The best thing you can do is to get more people to eat lionfish. It's good for you too right? The more fish, the better," Rob said.

The proposal must still be signed off by the executive director of the FWC before it goes into effect.