Lionfish hunt next month
Lionfish will be back in the crosshairs this summer with a special tournament to target the invasive species.
The Heatwave Tournament, organised by Blue Water Divers and Watersports, the Bermuda Lionfish Taskforce and watersports store Makin’ Waves, will be held on August 18.
Chris Gauntlett of Blue Water Divers, based at Robinson’s Marina, Somerset Bridge, Sandys, said he hoped the warm summer weather would encourage more people to get in the water to take part in the event.
He added: “That has always been one of the advantages of the summer tournaments. It’s not wetsuit weather, or if it is, you only need a light wetsuit, which means more people are willing to go out.”
The single-day tournament will start at 6am and participants should bring their catch to Robinson’s Marina by 3pm.
Mr Gauntlett said: “We thought about making it a weekend, but the feedback we received was we would get better outreach by having a one-day event.
“People are hunting all the time, but they are not focused the same way that they are in a tournament.
“The point is to get the fish, but it’s also about making people aware of the situation and what’s being done about it.”
Lionfish, native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, were introduced to the Atlantic in the 1990s and the fast-breeding species spread rapidly through the Caribbean and reached Bermudian waters by 2000.
The species have no natural predators in the Atlantic and are not recognised as a threat by local fish, so they can easily hunt reef fish.
Lionfish are edible, and research by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation found that derbies can reduce the number of lionfish in an area by up to 52 per cent.
Anyone who wants to take part in the Heatwave Tournament should sign up at Makin’ Waves, on Hamilton’s Church Street, before August 10. The entrance fee is $30.
Prizes will be awarded in a range of categories, including largest and smallest lionfish caught, the most lionfish caught, the heaviest lionfish caught and the “Run the Gauntlett” prize for “most impressive accidental injury due to a lionfish sting”.
Mr Gauntlett said the prize named after him was set up after he suffered a lionfish sting in a tournament two years ago and had to go to the weigh-in with a bandaged hand.
He said: “It’s a jab at myself, but when you make up the prizes you get to name them.”
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