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Florida Officials Permanently Waive License Requirement For Lionfish Harvesting

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) - A temporary rule that makes it easier to catch lionfish, the invasive fish that belongs in the Indian and Pacific oceans, will soon be permanent in Florida.

In an effort to control the lionfish population off the southeast U.S., Bahamas and the Caribbean, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission adopted changes that will waive the recreational license requirement for divers gathering lionfish.

Divers, sans license, can harvest lionfish using pole spears, handheld nets, Hawaiian slings or other devices specifically designed for catching the fish which are said to harm important juvenile reef species, such as grouper and snapper.

Lionfish, because they are native to other oceans, have no natural reef predators and compete for food and habitat against domestic species.

The FWC put a temporary rule in place last August. The newly adopted rule will take effect before the temporary rule expires, so there will be no lapse in the expanded permissions.

Before the change, recreational anglers could not catch more than 100 pounds of lionfish without a commercial license.

Spearing or using hand-held nets are the most effective method of removing lionfish from Florida waters.

Lionfish have venomous spines but they are edible. When properly cleaned, lionfish yield a white meat that is considered a delicacy.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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