5 groups get $250,000 to research Florida lionfish removal

Posted at 7:03 AM, Jun 22, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida wildlife officials are awarding $250,000 to five organizations to research new ways to remove invasive lionfish from deep-water habitats.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release says $50,000 each is going to the University of Florida, Reef Environmental Education Foundation, American Marine Research Company, R3 Digital Sciences and Atlantic Lionshare Ltd. Research proposals were submitted last fall, and the contracts run through next June.

Lionfish are not native to Florida waters, and scientists say they can negatively impact indigenous wildlife and habitats.

The Florida diving community uses spearfishing gear to control lionfish populations in shallow waters, but the fish can be found in waters up to 1,000 feet (300 meters) in depth, far beyond recreational dive limits of 130 feet (40 meters).