Record-breaking lionfish tournament
The sixth annual Groundswell Lionfish Tournament has been hailed a “fantastic” success, with a record-breaking 153 lionfish caught by more than 150 participants.
“It was fantastic, it went really well,” Selange Gitschner, of Groundswell, told The Royal Gazette. “We were just really happy with the turnout.”
Fellow Groundswell founder Matt Strong said 153 fish had been caught, adding: “Over 150 participated, which is probably a record as well, making us one of the largest fishing tournaments in Bermuda.
“The great thing is, every fish you remove from the reef, you’re preventing it breeding.
“Everyone should feel proud that they’ve gone out and helped the environment.”
He said that, most importantly, “we were able to show the general public that this is something we are going to have to deal with forever”.
Although the lionfish invasion in Bermuda is not as bad as elsewhere, Mr Strong said a long-term solution was teaching those who dive, snorkel or fish to become conservationists, while those who were not keen on culling could still make a difference by buying the fish, ordering it in restaurants and asking fishermen to catch the species.
“This is the only fish you can eat and it’s actually helping the environment,” he said.
Ms Gitschner said she was also delighted that in the run up to the event, 65 people took part in courses to obtain their culling permits.
About 1,000 people enjoyed the event, held at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences on Saturday, and took the chance to taste the fish and learn how to handle them safely.
Ms Gitschner and Mr Strong extended a special thank you to chef Ryan Solien and his Island Restaurant Group team for preparing the lionfish.
“They made up some amazing lionfish ceviche,” Ms Gitschner said, adding that they also made lionfish tacos and chowder for the first time.
And while Mr Strong said that people had previously been a little “reluctant and unsure” about eating the fish, “now people just can’t get enough”.
The duo also thanked the community and all the cullers for participating and also expressed their gratitude to title sponsor Gorham’s, as well as CellOne, Hiscox, IRG, BIOS, Marine Locker, Two Rock winery, La Garza, Bush Made and Gosling’s for their support.
All the funds raised by the tournament will be tallied and will go towards lionfish research and culling efforts.
Visit www.reefspect.com to find out when the next lionfish culling courses will take place.
More than 150 people participated in the sixth annual Groundswell Lionfish Tournament. Listed below are the competition winners.
Top prize for the biggest fish at 47cm: “Rev” from Team Oracle
Special Prize for the most fish deep dive: Team Ocean Support Foundation consisting of Gretchen Goodbody Gringley and Alex Chequer, who caught 49 Fish
Most fish caught by an individual: Chris Cabral, who caught seven fish
Most Fish caught by a team: Team Bob Marlin, who caught 17 fish free diving
Smallest Fish at 15.6cm: Vicky Jibaja from Team Dive Bermuda