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Toxic And Destructive, Lionfish
Are Both Beauty And Beast

Lionfish are a new addition to the vast array of Florida fish calling the Florida Keys home.

They're also one invasive alien species that is dangerous and unwelcome.

Non-native to the area, this species of fish is slowly invading the beautiful waters of the Florida Keys.

As such, it's now targeted for removal by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation to help protect the Florida Keys coral reefs and marine life.

To help eliminate this noxious fish from the Florida Keys, the push is on to create an interest in actively harvesting it for recreational and commercial purposes.

Lionfish Swimming with A Fish


Deadly Lionfish Swimming With Other Fish
www.photolib.noaa.gov
Credit: Andrew David, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC Panama City
Lance Horn, UNCW/NURC - Phantom II ROV operator


A new mantra that everyone needs to start chanting is "Eat Lionfish". To help spread the word, recent campaigns promoting cookbooks featuring lionfish recipes have begun. The goal is to encourage families and restaurants to include this meat as part of their regular meal planning.

With white, mild tasty meat, it can be safely eaten and has been compared to hogfish in flavor. However anyone catching one of these spiny creatures, needs to know how to safely handle and clean it before serving it for dinner.

Below is a preview of several Florida Keys spearfishing charter companies. You'll note that they provide a wide array of fishing options, but they do also include spearfishing on their fishing charter trips.

Since lionfish are targeted by spearfishing, these Florida Keys fishing guides should be able to help you in your quest to eradicate this tasty, but nasty nuisance.

You'll notice that there's also a Check Rate Button for each listing. When you click on that Button it will take you to their landing page where you can get more detailed information on fishing equipment, the boat, the Captain, current rates and availability for trips.

You'll also see other fishing charters identified and you can browse through those to see if any of them have something else you'd like to see included.

FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Charisma Sportfishing
Captain Chris Dillon
38' Stolper refurbished in 2012, 2 370 hp Cummings engines, 6 person capacity
Key Largo Departure
Payment 20% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Numerous species of most popular offshore and reef and wreck fishing targeted, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup not included
Fishing Trip Destinations
Offshore Fishing     Inshore Fishing     Reef Fishing     Wreck Fishing     Night Fishing
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Heavy Tackle     Bottom Fishing     Kite Fishing     Spearfishing
Fishing Trip Description
Charisma Sportfishing, one of the finest Key Largo charter fishing boats, has a maximum cruising speed of 25 knots. Elegant and recently equipped with the latest in fishing equipment and technology, the Charisma also sports a customized tuna tower to sight for fish, and allow you to have an even more spectacular view. Not only is the boat one of the finest, Captain Dillon and his crew have years of experience under their belt. They also like to maximize your fishing experience to the fullest, so they specialize in using light tackle and live bait. You'll find the fish bite faster, and the fight will be even more exhilarating!



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Upper Keys Sportfishing
Captain Jorge Piñero
36' HydraSports Center console, refurbished in 2015, 2015 2 300 hp Yamaha V6 Offshore engines, 4 person capacity
Islamorada Departure
Payment 30% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Bank Transfer, PayPal
Numerous species of most popular offshore fishing targeted, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup included in price
Fishing Trip Destinations
Offshore Fishing    
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Heavy Tackle     Bottom Fishing     Trolling     Spinning
Jigging     Popping     Fly Fishing     Kite Fishing     Handline     Spearfishing
Fishing Trip Description
Upper Keys Sportfishing with a maximum cruising speed of 55 knots is a boat equipped with a vast array of fishing technology to make sure the job gets done. Not only has the Habanero received several top charter fishing awards, Captain Jorge and his crew have been featured in numerous respected fishing magazines and have received various awards as well as being acknowledged as one of the top 60 Captains in the United States by Sportfishing Magazine. The combination of equipment, and know how, especially when it comes to finding and bringing in the biggest fighters such as marlin, sailfish and wahoo, are reasons why this is one of the most popular fishing charter companies in the Florida Keys.



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Team Nauti Charters
Captain Paulette Barrett & Captain Ben Braun
35' Sea Hunter Center console, 2 300 hp Yamaha engines, 6 person capacity
Key West Departure
Payment 30% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, PayPal
Numerous species of offshore and nearshore fish targeted, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup not included
Fishing Trip Destinations
Offshore Fishing     Reef Fishing     Wreck Fishing     Destinations can exceed 70 miles
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Heavy Tackle     Bottom Fishing
Jigging     Kite Fishing     Spearfishing
Fishing Trip Description
Team Nauti Charters has one of the faster boats with a maximum cruising speed of 60 knots. Her speed makes it possible for greater distance fishing trips to get to where the REALLY big fish are. Loaded with amenities, Miss Nauti is also equipped with the latest in fishing technology along with other extras such as electric reels for pulling in the big grouper or swordfish you'll find in the deepest of water.



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Fish N Therapy
Captain Phil Leonard
38' Topaz Offshore sport fishing, 2 375 hp Caterpiller engines, 6 person capacity
Islamorada Departure
Payment 20% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Mastercard, Checks, Bank Transfer, American Express
Numerous species of most popular offshore and reef and wreck fishing targeted, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup agreed upon reservation
Fishing Trip Destinations
Nearshore Fishing     Offshore Fishing     Reef Fishing     Wreck Fishing
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Heavy Tackle     Bottom Fishing     Trolling
Spinning     Jigging     Popping     Kite Fishing     Spearfishing
Fishing Trip Description
Fish N Therapy with a maximum cruising speed of 27 knots is a well equipped fishing charter boat, that is also loaded with numerous amenities to enhance your level of comfort on your fishing trip. Specializing in a wide array of fishing techniques, Captain Leonard can take you out to the deep blue to fish for the large pelagic species such as marlin, sailfish and wahoo. He can take out to the numerous reefs and wrecks off the coast of Islamorada to fish for snapper, grouper and other hard hitting fish. No matter your level of fishing expertise, Fish N Therapy can make your Islamorada fishing trip one of your best memories yet!



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Florida Straits Sportfishing
Captain John Hiers
32' Stamas Center console, 2 450 hp Yamaha engines, 6 person capacity
Marathon Departure
Payment 15% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Mastercard, Checks
Numerous species of most popular offshore and reef and wreck fishing targeted, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup agreed upon reservation
Fishing Trip Destinations
Inshore Fishing     Nearshore Fishing     Offshore Fishing
Reef Fishing     Wreck Fishing     Flats Fishing
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Heavy Tackle     Bottom Fishing     Trolling     Spinning
Jigging     Popping     Drift Fishing     Kite Fishing     Spearfishing
Fishing Trip Description
Florida Straits Sportfishing with a maximum cruising speed of 42 knots is one of the faster Florida Keys fishing charter boats. Roomy and fast, this comfortable boat is able to get out to deep water fast for targeting sailfish, wahoo and mahi mahi. The boat is also equipped with a variety of fishing gear and live bait, so if you are wanting to go reef or wreck fishing Captain John Hiers and his crew are able to easily accommodate. Professional, well versed in the art of fishing, your fishing charter trip with Florida Straits Sportfishing can be designed to suit your exact tastes and style of fishing.






Florida Keys Fishing For Lionfish

Florida Keys spearfishing is a longstanding favorite sport that's also a true hunter's game. For many divers, the excitement of tracking down and singling out their prey is a major adrenalin rush.

This thrill is amplified when it comes to hunting this particular aquatic invasive species. Due to their poisonous spines, the game is substantially kicked up a notch.

Since traditional means of capture are too dangerous, spearfishing presents a relatively safe and effective alternative. You'll just need to make sure you have the necessary spearfishing gear, sharp knife and flashlight for looking in crevices where they can be hiding out.





As long as the spear fisherman knows what to do, there's little worry of injury. By using a spear, the diver is kept at a safe distance. Once the fish is speared, the diver is then able to quickly cut off the poisonous spines that surround the neck as well as around the dorsal, pelvic and anal fins.

Florida spearfishing is a dangerous sport that has numerous restrictions attached to it. However, it has taken on a new and vital role by helping to protect these beautiful waters. In fact, it could be said that Florida spearfishing has gone eco-friendly.

As part of a program to help eradicate this invasive species, Florida Keys spearfishing derbies are now held annually.

To further help eliminate this noxious fish, as of September, 2012, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has instituted a change to lionfish restrictions.

Until at least August, 2013, there is no recreational or commercial restriction on harvesting this fish. Also, a recreational fishing license is not required if the fishermen is using a Hawaiian sling, handheld net, pole spear, or spearing device designed exclusively for lionfish.

Traditional methods of fishing do require a recreational fishing license. Also, a permit is required in the no-take zones of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Lionfish spearfishing is still restricted in all off limit areas as part of the coral reef protection process. These loosening of restrictions also apply only to State water. For the Gulf of Mexico, this is water that extends from shore out 9 miles. For the Atlantic, it's for water that extends from shore out 3 miles.


Florida Keys Spearfishing For This Noxious Threat
Courtesy of YouTube and pjclyne





Lionfish Facts, Dangers and First Aid

This is one fish that has tremendous impact on the area in terms of devastating destruction and economic implications.

A voracious eater, this fish is truly beauty and the beast. It's capable of decimating large sections of the Florida fish population and can take over an entire area in just a few short years.

Part of the problem is that it likes to dine on the juveniles of many species important to the recreational and commercial fishing industry.

This species has already taken a firm, unfortunate hold in the Caribbean waters. The tremendous damage it's caused to this region has had a severe negative impact on marine life as well as on water sport, and fishing related industries.

Lionfish are Toxic and Dangerous


Beautiful, Toxic and Dangerous
www.photolib.noaa.gov
Credit: Andrew David, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC Panama City
Lance Horn, UNCW/NURC - Phantom II ROV operator


This species presents a danger to not just to the delicate FLorida Keys ecosystem, but to divers, swimmers, snorkelers and fishermen. Contact of any kind with the its toxic spines is dangerous.

The fastest way to remove toxins from the injured body part is to submerse the afflicted area in the hottest water possible. This helps to negate and breakdown the poison in the body.

If you happen to be stung by one while at sea, use the water from the boat's engine. This should be hot enough to help breakdown the poison.

With a record of quick destruction and no known predators, this invasive alien species poses a real danger to everything in it's path, including birds and other wildlife.

Recently, a Great White Heron was rescued by several quick thinking people when they noticed the bird was in severe distress.

Using a pair of long needlenose pliers they were able to safely remove one of these toxic fish from the bird's throat. A shot of atropine helped to negate the poison, and after a few days, the bird was successfully released. Unfortunately many other birds and marine life aren't so lucky.







How Did These Destructive Fish Get Here?

A real problem with this fish is that it's possesses an unusual and exotic appearance as shown by the lionfish pictures on this page. This makes it a special favorite for individuals who have aquariums in their businesses or homes.

However, this fish is equally poisonous whether at sea or in a tank. Unfortunately many individuals don't realize that this fish presents a real danger for anyone who's cleaning the aquarium or even feeding the fish.

The fact that they were people's "pets" is perhaps one of the reasons why they're now found in the waters off the Florida Keys. In an attempt to rid themselves of the fish, people emptied their aquarium tanks into the water.

Since this species has no known enemies, and is capable of fast reproduction, it is able to expand it's territory and effectively destroy everything else in it's wake.

Predatory Lionfish


Lionfish Are Threatening the Florida Keys Ecosystem
www.noaa.gov


Indigenous to the Indo-Pacific Ocean and Red Sea waters, it does not naturally occur here. Over and above the already proposed theory, there are other guesses as to how this fish got here. The problem is, there are no true answers, only endless possible how's, when's and why's.

It could be argued that ocean going vessels have emptied their bilges and caused the infestation. This is possible if the water in their bilges contained any of this species.

Is this a problem similar to dumping pythons in the Everglades? Are people really getting rid of problematic "pets" by dumping their aquariums into the water too?

The important question now is not how did they get here, but how do we get rid of them?

One interesting solution introduces us to a new and unusual ally, the shark. In Honduras, agencies are working to introduce this fish as a tasty meal alternative to this voracious predator. If they can successfully train shark to eat this invasive aquatic species, they’ll have a formidable partner capable of reducing the population and keeping it under control.

So along with the slogan "Eat Lionfish", remember to add a new one - "Go Sharks"!

You can also help eradicate the problem by participating in a Florida spearfishing derby and go lionfish spearfishing next time you're on a Florida Keys vacation. You'll be able to help save the environment, get some good 'eats', and perhaps even win a prize or two!








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