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Tournament catches almost 500 lionfish

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Weldon Wade, a conservationist and organiser of the Bermuda Lionfish Grand Prix (File protograph)

A lionfish hunting tournament organised through a mobile app reeled in almost 500 fish, the organiser said yesterday.

Weldon Wade, who held the Bermuda Lionfish Grand Prix late last year, said that the month-long event had a great turnout despite the lack of a social side and several regular divers.

He added: “I went into it not really having any expectations – I don’t really measure success by the amount of people who participate or the amount of lionfish that are culled.

“I just want to host a fun and safe and engaging event for those that do decide to participate and that’s what happened.

“But looking back I think it was successful – with 29 anglers, 11 or so teams and just under 500 fish it went really well.

“So it’s a give and take, but at the end of the day it would have met my expectations, if I were to establish expectations.”

Lionfish culled during the Bermuda Lionfish Grand Prix (Photograph supplied)

The event featured 25 people, competing as individuals teams, who caught a total of 472 lionfish.

Mr Wade, who has organised similar events, said the tournament was the first time he used the “iAngler” smartphone app to regulate registration and participation.

He added that the app had been in the works for about three years and its completion coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Wade said that, although the social aspect of lionfish tournaments had been lost because of the coronavirus, this year’s event did have some advantages.

He added: “For most tournaments there’s usually a nice ’wrap party’ where you announce the winners and there’s prize giving, but we were unable to have that this year.

“But with that said, with everything online and digital, you didn’t have to go anywhere to register.”

Mr Wade said: “Thanks to sponsorships, people who participated this year did not have to pay, so that’s a bit of a good deal.

“You don’t get a cool hoodie or a cool T-shirt, but at the same time it’s no cost to you to participate.

“Every angler also got to keep their catch, which historically hasn’t always been the case.”

Mr Wade added that the amount of lionfish caught showed that there was a large number of the invasive species around Bermuda – and a lot of people prepared to try and keep the problem in check.

He said: “A big takeaway for the community that doesn’t really understand the whole thing is that lionfish are in shallow water, despite myths that they weren’t, and their numbers are increasing.

“We’re doing our best to keep their numbers in check but we do need to do more with respect to culling.”

Mr Wade said that he hoped to use the app to organise future events and planned to organise another lionfish tournament next month.

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Published January 05, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 04, 2021 at 7:31 pm)

Tournament catches almost 500 lionfish

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