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I have a low tolerance for committee meetings....but this is the best damn speech I have ever heard at one!
This is Candy Hansard of the Emerald Coast Reef Association. She has been tirelessly fighting for the fishing/diving community for years. Her main goals right now are to increase the number of artificial reefs deployed, and to combat the lionfish invasion.
Please watch this video!!! Mainly from minutes 1:45 to 44:00 .....you will be surprised how quickly that actually goes when you get into this info!
Pay special attention to the future plans of the FWC....hint - catch and release only!!!
http://www.flsenate.gov/media/videoplayer?EventID=2443575804_2013121069

Here are some links to the presentations from www.ecreef.org/

http://www.ecreef.org/Presentation_Pages/Government_Presentations/FL%20State%20Approp'n%20Committtee%20Presentation%2011%20Dec%2013.pdf

http://www.ecreef.org/Lionfish_Pages/Documents/Lionfish Population Control Proposal 12-11-13.pdf
 

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Hi Billybob+

I have seen the 2020 plan and found it very disturbing. While they focus on recreational fishermen as being the problem our fishery faces, they do absolutelly nothing about the lionfsh that are eating our native fish at unsustainable rates. A single lionfish was found last year by scientists at REEF (R) with 64 fish and 1 shrimp in it's stomach contents!

One of the very important issues that is covered in the presentation above is the fact that Federal Fishery Management is broken. To back up that claim, I provided a 2013 letter signed by 4 Gulf Coast State Governors stating that they believed Federal Fishery Management was "irretrievably broken".

My hope is that Florida will increase funding for artificial reef construction so that our state can build a healthy and sustainable fishery in waters controlled by our state. There is funding information in the presentation that may be shocking for the public to learn about.

Economic information was presented showing the effect that decreased fishing access has had on Florida's economy and why we need to invest in our fishery to protect and increase your access to our fishery. The economic benefit of building artificial reefs was also clearly demonstrated.

NOAA and the FWC have known about lionfish in our waters for over 28 years now and yet, neither agency has taken any steps to even attempt to control the population explosion. However; both agencies are quick to take action to reduce fish mortality caused by fishermen who cause such miniscule damage to the fishery compared to the lionfish! When was the last time you killed 64 of our native fish in a single day? There are millions of us who may kill on average 4 fish per month but, the uncontrolled population of the lionfish is in the billions or trillions! What is the real problem facing our fishery, you or the lionfish?

By reducing your access to the fishery over the past 4 years, Florida has lost 104,356 jobs related to the fishing and boating industries! Do you fish/spearfish less these days than you did back in 2008? I know I do! Why go out if I can't bring home dinner?
 

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Presentation

I didn't see the video yet, but did open and read through the power point presentation. I also completed the survey last year and am happy to see so many support the take out of season allocation and process for monitoring have so much support. Seems that a lot could be done for relatively little cost. This would be a much better goal than a fish hatchery IMO.

Here's an interesting thread on The Hull Truth about lionfish.

http://www.thehulltruth.com/dockside-chat/559244-good-news-about-lionfish-2.html
 

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I know some people kill and feed the lionfish to our native fish in hopes of training them to prey on the lionfish. This might work after a period of time but, I have concerns about that practice.

The lionfish are armed with venomous spines. We have no idea what happens to our native fish an hour, day, week, month or year after being stung or ingesting venomous spines from an invasive fish. For all we know, our native fish may die shortly after injesting a venomous fish. So, I'm thinking just because we can coax them to eat the fish doesn't necessarily mean the fish will survive or remain healthy afterwards.

We do know that exposure to toxins can cause disease and even genetic changes, including sterilization in humans and other animals in nature.

While the idea of training our native fish to become predators of the lionfish is a great idea, we should do some research on the short and long term effect of this method before we promote it. If consuming lionfish harms the offspring of our native fish making them more vulnerable to disease, genetic deformities or, interferes with their ability to reproduce, we could actually make a very bad situation much worse. At this point we just don't know.

For now, I don't leave dead lionfish in the water...they all come to the surface even the very small ones.
 

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Candy,

Those are certainly good points and deserve more research. I wonder what eats lionfish in other parts of the world? I'm sure something must prey on them and it wouldn't be too difficult for the scientific community to study this, its probably already known.

I agree that it's not a good idea to leave the "killed" lionfish in the water unless they're cut severely. I've done this and watched triggerfish pick on the clean white meat. From what I've seen by spearing them with the liontamer pole spears and the very small barbs they can easily pull off leaving a minor wound depending on shot placement. How many fish have you seen or caught that had wounds, some of which are very significant that healed and they survived. I stands to reason that many of the lionfish that are speared and left in the water will heal and live.
 

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We have killed and filleted several lionfish that had healed wounds that most certainly were from a paralyzer tip spear.

I have shot fish that pulled off the spear and swam away without appearing to have significant injury. I always go for the kill if that happens because I don't want to risk training lionfish to fear humans.

Just like the theory that you can train sharks to associate people with food by feeding them, we should consider that spearing and releasing lionfish may, in the long term make them harder to approach and kill.
 

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Oops, meant to address the research issue.

It is likely that they have predators that have evolved in their native range that are programmed to prey on lionfish without suffering any negative health consequences. There is also the possibility that there are parasites or bacteria in their native waters that help control the lionfish population that is not present in our waters.

If we import either of those to our waters, we may be creating an even bigger problem. Still, it would be smart if our State or Federal fishery management would investigate the answer to these questions. I have not specifically asked Roy Crabtree those questions but I have asked those at the FWC if they have ever done that type of research and, the answer was no.
 
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