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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Central Abaco second annual Lionfish Derby a success!

Marsh Harbour Abaco - Friends of the Environment hosted its second annual Lionfish Derby in Marsh Harbour, Abaco on Saturday May 28th. Lionfish have become a major threat to the marine resources in the Bahamas. Although this fish is here to stay, derbies such as this one are a way to help maintain local populations and generate awareness about this voracious predator. 
Several lionfish derbies have been held throughout the Bahamas but none have brought in numbers as alarming as Saturday’s derby. Sixteen boats set out as early as sunrise in hopes to take home the grand prize of $2,000 for the most lionfish caught. The first team to arrive at the weigh in station landed 55 lionfish. As boats continued to arrive, an air of friendly competition ensued. Volunteers from Florida International University helped count coolers full of lionfish. Competitors looked on in anticipation, while staff at Marsh Harbour Exporters and Importers filleted the fish after they were counted. Once all boats checked in, the results were tallied arriving at an unprecedented number of lionfish... 2,957 in total! The winning teams are as follows:
The awards ceremony was held at the Marsh Harbour Marina and Jib Room where some of the fillets were raffled off and also cooked as appetizers for attendees.
The prize money was donated by Marsh Harbour Exporters and Importers and The Bahamas Marine Exporters Association. Additional prizes were also given for the smallest and largest lionfish as well as the least number caught.
Each female lionfish has the ability to produce up to one million eggs each year so hypothetically speaking, if fifty percent of the total catch from this derby were female, participants of the derby eliminated over 1 billion lionfish eggs from Abaco’s waters in one day! Derbies can make an impact on local populations but everyone can help control the lionfish invasion! Catch 'em, Clean 'em, Eat 'em!!

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