Lionfish Removal Permits

lionfish

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary encourages the safe removal of invasive lionfish from its waters and issues lionfish removal permits to divers for the collection of lionfish from Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs). The permit allows lionfish to be removed from the SPAs, which are otherwise no-fishing, no-take zones, with hand nets or slurp guns only. Spearguns or pole spears may not be used. This permit does not allow lionfish removal from the Ecological Reserves or the four Special-use Research Only Areas.

Individuals wishing to apply for a lionfish removal permit must first complete a sanctuary-endorsed lionfish safe-handling and collection workshop. Reef Environmental Education Foundation and the sanctuary host free workshops throughout the Keys annually. For details about the next lionfish workshop, contact floridakeys@noaa.gov.

No permits are required to remove lionfish from areas of the sanctuary where fishing is normally allowed, though be sure to check existing state and federal fishing regulations. A Florida saltwater fishing license is no longer required to harvest lionfish from Florida waters if using handnets, pole spears, Hawaiian slings, or other spearing devices created and marketed exclusively for lionfish collection. There is no recreational or commercial limit on the number of lionfish and individual can collect from Florida.

Additional lionfish removal permit options are made available to dive and snorkel operators participating in the sanctuary’s Blue Star recognition program.

 

Apply for a Lionfish Removal Permit

To apply for a lionfish removal permit, submit your name, affiliation (dive shop or other business, as applicable), mailing address, telephone number, and the date and location of your completed lionfish workshop to Joanne Delaney, Sanctuary Permit coordinator, at joanne.delaney@noaa.gov.