Lionfish are marine fish that are mainly red, brown and white and have a striped, zebra-like
    appearance.  They grow to approximately 12-15 inches in length; however they have been
    noted to be larger in areas where they are not indigenous.  The pectoral fins are long and
    showy, and with a row of long, dorsal spines. Each spine contains a venom gland in the
    distal third of the spine (but not at the tip). Lionfish venom causes pain but is rarely lethal.

    Lionfish are an invasive species that threaten Florida’s saltwater fish and wildlife.  FWC
    encourages people to remove lionfish in Florida waters to limit negative impacts to native
    fish and wildlife. Lionfish can be speared, caught in hand-held nets or caught on hook and

    New rule change:  FWC recently made changes that will increase lionfish harvesting
    opportunities, which are currently in effect through August 2013: a recreational fishing
    license is not required for recreational fishers targeting lionfish while using a pole spear, a
    Hawaiian Sling, a handheld net or any spearing device that is specifically designed and
    marketed exclusively for lionfish. There is no recreational or commercial harvest bag limit
    for lionfish. Learn more about harvesting lionfish. Read the new Executive Order dated
    Aug, 2012, on lionfish harvesting.

    Native Range
    South Pacific and Indian Oceans

    Florida Distribution

    Lionfish were first reported off Florida's Atlantic Coast near Dania Beach in 1985; in the
    1990s four reports were made near Miami, Boca Raton and Palm Beach and one report
    came from Bermuda.  In 2000 the species began to be recorded off the Atlantic coasts of
    North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, while reports from Bermuda and Florida
    continued.  By 2005 the first report was made from the Bahamas.  The species has now
    been regularly recorded all along the east coast of Florida, with multiple observations
    throughout the Florida Keys, and they are widespread in the

    Caribbean.  Individual lionfish have been collected or were observed in the northern Gulf of
    Mexico off Pensacola and Apalachicola in 2010

    Introduced Range Map


    Lionfish are a predatory reef fish.  They eat native fish, which can reduce native populations
    and have negative effects on the overall reef habitat as they can eliminate organisms which
    serve important ecological roles (e.g. herbivorous fish which keep algae in-check on the
    reefs.)  Lionfish also compete for food with native predatory fish such as grouper and

    Current Status

    Lionfish are spreading throughout Florida's waters, undoubtedly from the established
    populations in the Caribbean.  Juvenile lionfish have been caught, and it is likely that the
    species is reproducing at hospitable reef sites in Florida.  They have been found in shallow
    waters to depths of 1000 ft.

    More Information
    Lionfish Frequently asked questions
    Harvesting Lionfish
    Lionfish Brochure

    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission • Farris Bryant Building
    620 S. Meridian St. • Tallahassee, FL
    32399-1600 • (850) 488-4676
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