Posted by: reefrescue | July 4, 2010

Lionfish Derby nets 941 of the non-native predators

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By David Rogers

Daily News Staff Writer

In certain circumstances, catching fewer fish in an annual fishing tournament than the previous year can be a good thing.

That’s the case with the second Green Turtle Cay Lionfish Derby, an event organized by Palm Beacher Bobbie Lindsay and held June 19 in the Bahamas.

Participants in 21 boats caught 941 lionfish, a Pacific Ocean species that has invaded and is damaging the ecosystem of Green Turtle Cay.

The team of Thomas Sawyer, Gavin Roberts and Colby Cross caught 345 lionfish to win first place.

Lindsay and her co-organizer, Lad Akins from the Key Largo-based volunteer organization Reef Environmental Educational Foundation (REEF), say fewer lionfish were caught this year than last because more than 1,400 lionfish were caught during the inaugural event.

“Awareness is higher than last year, and Bahamians and visitors are spearing lionfish whenever they see them,” Lindsay said. There don’t seem to be as many lionfish in shallow water, according to Akins.

Juvenile lionship will congregate in shallow waters, while mature lionship migrate to reefs in deeper waters, Lindsay said. The later is where many of the lionship were caught this year, she said.

“They have penetrated the entire vertical water column. They live in shallow and deep water,” said Lindsay, who is a member of Palm Beach’s Shore Protection Board.

Tropic Seafood Limited, based in Nassau, purchased the larger fillets of lionfish for $6 a pound.

Palm Beach participants included Doug Buck and John Buck, Bob Calhoun and Liza Pulitzer, Nellie Benoit, Tim and Blair Givens, Chris and Jennifer Lazzara, Don and Jack McKenna, Michael Lazzara, Rich Lazzara, Bobby Leidy, Garrison Lickle, Jane and Joel Scott, and Jim Vance.

As soon as Lindsay and colleagues raise enough funds, they will sponsor a similar event off the waters of Palm Beach. Following an April 29 fundraiser in Jupiter, “there have been numerous sightings in our local waters, including Jupiter Inlet, Palm Beach Inlet, the Blue Heron Bridge and reefs off of Palm Beach,” Lindsay said.

The third annual Lionfish Derby in Green Turtle Cay is set for June 24-25, 2011.

For derby results and photographs, visit www.lionfishderby.com

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