Lionfish Derby haul helps to increase cull of invasive species
The eighth annual Winter Lionfish Derby took place throughout January with 47 active participants catching a strong haul of 804 lionfish.
The overall tally is slightly lower than the record 1,215 lionfish culled during last year’s tournament, but is an impressive result given the very challenging weather conditions throughout the month.
The tournament was organised by the Bermuda Lionfish Task Force, which brings together various partners working to control invasive lionfish in Bermuda, with Task Force members Stuart Joblin and Jade Williams of Makin’ Waves taking the lead.
For the second year in a row, the winning free-diving team was Natural Born Killers, who managed to cull 273 lionfish. They were followed by Sexy Reef Ambassadors with 92 fish, and Sea Monstars in third place with 75 fish.
In the scuba category, the Sophisticated Slayers took top spot with a total of 29 fish, followed by the Silent Killers with 11 fish and Lit Divers with six fish.
Additional prizes were awarded to the top individual cullers, with the first-place winner single-handedly capturing 109 lionfish. There were also prizes for as well as for the smallest and largest fish captured during the tournament.
Lionfish culling takes place throughout the year and, during the licensing year that finished on January 31, there were 151 active cullers who removed 3,052 lionfish from Bermuda’s waters, similar to the count of 3,099 for last year’s period.
Participants in the 2022 Winter Derby were responsible for 27 per cent of this past year’s total catch.
While every lionfish removed from Bermuda’s waters helps, much of the culling is done by a small number of very dedicated people who were given special recognition.
Top cullers for the year received awards this week, with Chris Cabral, who culled a total of 610 fish, named the lionfish king for the second year running, and Chiara Cociani, who culled 194 fish, crowned the lionfish queen. The top junior culler, Alexander Montarsolo of Warwick Academy, culled a total of 125 lionfish.
Would-be lionfish cullers must be at least 16 years old and attend a training course in order to obtain the necessary permit, which is issued by the Bermuda Government Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
• For information on attending the training course e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org