Anyone willing and able to actively remove lionfish from Florida waters can become a Reef Ranger or join an existing team. Not a diver? You can support a Reef Ranger team through our sponsorship page or support FWC lionfish control efforts by donating to our non-profit Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) initiated the Reef Rangers program to encourage targeted lionfish removals on Florida’s reefs. Reef Rangers pledge to remove lionfish from local reefs of their choice and do their part in the statewide control of the invasive lionfish population!
Reef Rangers are encouraged to conduct removals on their adopted reefs at least 2-3 times per year to help keep lionfish numbers down. Some reefs may be more densely populated with lionfish than others and may require more frequent removal efforts.
Looking for more opportunities to harvest lionfish? Participate in a lionfish derby or spearfishing tournament! Check out the events page on the FWC Lionfish website for an updated list of tournaments happening year-round across Florida.
Mark your calendar for a two-day derby at the 2017 Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day when we will encourage divers to become a Reef Ranger!
Lionfish have successfully invaded the waters of both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida and can inhabit a wide range of water quality, temperature, salinity, and depths. Dense populations of lionfish can be found in deeper waters offshore on natural and artificial reefs, hard-bottom structures and ledges, as well as in shallow, inshore environments in bays, estuaries, and rivers. Florida has an active artificial reef program that deploys artificial reef structures to create habitat for fish and invertebrate species. Choose from the available reefs on our interactive map and sign up to adopt a reef in a location that is best accessible to your Reef Rangers team!
The lionfish invasion throughout the western Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico is the worst marine invasion to date. Lionfish are the perfect invader: 18 venomous spines; absence of natural predators; high reproductive output; voracious appetite; and can tolerate wide ranges of temperature, salinity, depth, and water quality. Current efforts to control and manage lionfish populations are by scuba and free divers using spearfishing equipment. Sustained local removal efforts have been shown to be successful at keeping lionfish populations down. FWC encourages divers and saltwater anglers to remove and report lionfish whenever possible. With this localized control applied to Florida’s reefs statewide, Reef Rangers will help protect our native ecosystems from the harmful effects of the lionfish invasion. This will eventually have a positive impact on marine environments by allowing native fish and invertebrate populations to recover. Learn more about lionfish here.