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Lionfish Fest

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Lee Reefs is pleased to announce our inaugural Lionfish Fest scheduled for May 3rd & 4th, 2014.

The non-native Indo-Pacific lionfish has no predators in the Gulf of Mexico and is wreaking havoc on our marine environment by explosively reproducing and eating dangerously high numbers of prized native species and their food sources, such as grouper, snapper, hogfish, grunts and crustaceans.

The Heights Center and Lee Reefs are hosting “Lionfish Fest – Feast on the Beast” – a lionfish Roundup and Chef Cook-off Saturday and Sunday May 3-4. The goal is to raise awareness and help control local lionfish populations by holding competitions to capture lionfish and put them on the menu. All proceeds from the events will benefit Lee Reef’s Marine Management Fund and The Heights Center. Like the Facebook page for more updates and information.

Roundup Details

On Saturday, May 3 tournament participants will compete for awards for catching the most lionfish, largest and smallest lion fish. Team entry fee (four anglers) is $200 and the individual fee is $50. Entry fee includes door prizes, raffle entry and awards presentation and Chef’s Cook Off at The Heights Center on Sunday, May 4.

To make this event safe for everyone, we do recommend advanced scuba certified participants.

This competition focuses on collecting and removing as many lionfish as possible.
Teams may collect lionfish by hook and line, netting or spearing while SCUBA diving, free diving, or snorkeling.

Teams begin competing at sunrise May 3rd and are required to bring their catch to the scoring station, located at The Heights Center, 15570 Hagie Dr, Fort Myers, FL 33908 between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 4th. Teams will be awarded for catching the most, the largest and smallest lionfish at our Lionfish Cook-off and Awards Reception following the check in.

The evening before the roundup, participants are required to attend the Captain’s Meeting at 7:00 p.m. at Hotel Indigo in Downtown Ft. Myers (1520 Broadway #104, Fort Myers, FL 33901) which will include lionfish biology, ecology, impacts, recommended collecting and handling tools and techniques, and the roundup rules.

Tournament Schedule

  • Friday, May 2, 7-9 p.m. – Captain’s Meeting
  • Saturday, May 3, Sunrise – Lines/Tanks in
  • Saturday, May 3, Sunset – Lines/Tanks out
  • Sunday, May 4, Lionfish Scoring at The Heights Center

Awards Reception & Chef’s Competition to Follow

To participate in the Lionfish Roundup click here and download the registration packet. For information about the roundup contact Mike Campbell at (239) 533-8133 or mncampbell@leegov.com.

Chef’s Cook Off Details

On Sunday, May 4 from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at The Heights Center, the public is invited to join celebrated local chefs that will present a unique twist on Florida fare – delectable lionfish from Gulf waters. Guests will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite dish. The event will include door prizes, fun auction items, a signature tropical drink and live music, as well as displays about Lionfish and our reefs. Mitch and Billy of the Sun Sports Network’s hit show Scuba Nation television will be on hand showing their underwater videos. Katie Walls of WINK News will emcee the event. Admission is $50 per person, children under 12 are admitted free.

“Lionfish are an invasive species that have no natural enemies,” said Mike Campbell, Environmental Specialist and Artificial Reef Director for Lee County Division of Natural Resources. “If there can be public demand for the filets that are delicate, white and comparable to Hogfish, it’s possible to create a sustainable fishery and lessen the harmful impact on our reefs. Our goal is to give seafood suppliers, restaurateurs and the public the opportunity to become familiar with lionfish.”

“We are excited to host The Lionfish Fest at The Heights Center,” said Kathryn Kelly, President and CEO of The Heights Foundation. “Lionfish are delicious and our talented local chefs are going to come up with some amazing recipes and samplings. This will be a fun event for the entire family.”

To purchase tickets for the Lionfish Fest click here or contact Laurie Stanley at (239) 482-7706 or lauries@heightsfoundation.org