The Fifth Annual Lionfish Challenge winners have been announced and divers from around the state have claimed prizes for helping to rid our waters of the invasive lionfish.
The goal of the annual Florida Lionfish Challenge is, “to encourage and reward recreational and commercial divers for removing lionfish from Florida waters.” Through the Lionfish Challenge and other programs the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been successful in bringing awareness to the lionfish problem, increasing interest in their removal, and reducing the threat to our environment.
Each year from May to October, spear-fishermen take to Florida waters to harvest these tasty invasive fish and compete for prizes for the lionfish they remove. In 2020 a series of mini-challenges were added which included the first 25 to qualify, the largest lionfish, the most lionfish per region, and raffle entries equal to the amount of lionfish or pounds of lionfish submitted. Participants won numerous prizes such as Shearwater Perdix dive computers, Paralenz dive cameras, GoPro Hero 9s, steel scuba cylinders, customized neck gaiters, Engel backpack coolers, polespears, Dive Rite steel backplate buoyancy control devices and more.
The success of these events makes us all winners by helping to remove an invasive species that threatens the marine life in Florida waters.
First place Lionfish King: David Connerth, Palm Beach County, 1,141 removed.
Second place: Russell Peters, Duval County, 842 removed.
Third place: Shane Rasch, Palm Beach County, 619 removed.
First place Commercial Champion: Isidoro Bedoya, Duval County, 1,196.5 pounds removed.
Second place: Josh Livingston, Okaloosa County, 943 pounds removed.
Third place: Rachel Bowman, Monroe County, 932.75 pounds removed.
First 25 Qualifiers Raffle:
Largest Lionfish: Joshua Livingston, Okaloosa County, 408 mm.
Northeast Region: Russell Peters, Duval County, 705 lionfish.
Southeast Region: Shane Rasch, Palm Beach County, 241 lionfish.
West Region: Jennifer Ford-Cote, Sarasota County, 105 lionfish.
Northwest Region: Bob Gamble, Escambia County, 61 lionfish.
Commercial: Isidoro Bedoya, Duval County, 174 pounds.
Raffle Entry (one entry per lionfish/pound):
Carlos Orozco, Bay County.
Danny Ward, Sarasota County.
Annie Beattie, Broward County.
21,569 lionfish removed.
665 people registered.
170 people submitted lionfish (160 recreational, 10 commercial).
The Lionfish Challenge ran from May 22 ‒ Nov.1.
To learn more about the FWC Lionfish control efforts please visit these websites: