Lionfish derby: spearfishing rules loosened for one-day event

Lionfish hunt in John Pennekamp State Park

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) -- Restrictions on spearfishing in state and federal waters in the Upper and Middle Florida Keys will be loosened temporarily for a one-day lionfish derby.

Single-day permits have been issued for Saturday's lionfish hunt in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and state waters off the Upper Keys.

Teams will be competing for prizes awarded for the most, largest and smallest lionfish caught.

Lionfish are an invasive species that prey upon dozens of native Florida species.

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State and federal officials have encouraged people to remove lionfish and eat them to aid conservation efforts.

The Key West Citizen reports that last year, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation's one-day derby netted 461 lionfish.

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