BIOS to Host Groundswell Lionfish Tournament

By now, many Bermuda residents are aware that lionfish have invaded the island’s waters, posing a threat to local fish populations due to their voracious appetites and lack of natural predators. While researchers work to understand the extent of the lionfish’s impact, as well as the effectiveness of various long-term control strategies, there are ways for citizens to get involved as well.

On Saturday, July 20, 2013, BIOS will be hosting the annual “Eat Um to Beat Um” Groundswell Lionfish Tournament in Ferry Reach, St. George’s. Sponsored by BIOS, the Ocean Support Foundation, Gosling’s Rums, and Bermuda Ocean Explorers, the event will include live music, a Gosling’s bar, and a variety of information about lionfish, including a handling demonstration and a lionfish tasting after weigh-in. Individuals with a valid lionfish culling permit can set out at sunrise to spear lionfish on the Bermuda Platform, with a weigh-in scheduled to take place at BIOS at 3pm. Participants without a lionfish culling permit will be required to abide by all current government sport diving regulations.

The Bermuda Department of Environmental Protection recently introduced the culling permits as part of the Bermuda Lionfish Task Force Control Plan that is being implemented with assistance from the Ocean Support Foundation. For a $20 fee, residents can take a 2-hour course, typically offered once a week, that covers relevant topics such as safe handling and spearing practices. Upon completion of the course, participants will receive a permit tag, which allows holders to spear only lionfish anywhere on the island, including within the one-mile limit and in protected areas. For more information on the lionfish culling permit courses, please email bdalionfishpermit@gmail.com or call 704-5406.

Corey Eddy, member of the Lionfish Taskforce, reports that, “To date, 167 people have been certified and we hope to use the Groundswell Lionfish Tournament to increase that number.”

The “Eat Um to Beat Um” Groundswell Lionfish Tournament is free to the public, including free parking at BIOS. The event starts at 3pm and will run until 8pm. For more information on the event, including the tournament registration form, please visit the Groundswell website at www.reefspect.com. Deadline for registration is 5pm on Friday, July 19.