The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) had requested and the Legislature approved funding in the 2014 state budget in the amount of $427,000 to address the proliferation of lionfish in state waters. These funds would have been used to pay bounties for lionfish caught during sanctioned derbies. Last week, however, Governor Scott vetoed the line item from the budget.
Lionfish are an invasive species with no known predators, and they are multiplying rapidly and killing off other native Florida species including grouper and snapper. A female lionfish can release up to 30,000 eggs per spawn and can spawn every four days in warm water. The FWCC must now rely on other eradication efforts which include allowing spearfishing where otherwise prohibited, restricting imports, and eliminating catch limits.