ORANGE BEACH, ALA. – Local chefs will also be serving tasting lionfish samples for all in attendance. September 24 was officially declared by Governor Robert Bentley as Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day.
For the Lionfish Derby, divers in groups of two to four can compete for more than $3,500 in cash and other prizes by spearing either the most lionfish, largest lionfish or smallest lionfish. Spearing will begin at sunrise on Friday and continue until the weigh-in station closes at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The awards ceremony will begin at 6 p.m., following the final weigh-in.
Diver registration is still open and late registration will be held on Thursday, Sept. 22 from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. at Flora-Bama Ole River Bar. Registration is $125 per team and includes participation in the derby as well as an event t-shirt.
“We are happy to be hosting an event that creates a financial incentive for divers to remove as many lionfish from the Gulf of Mexico as they can,” said Chandra Wright, nature tourism specialist for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium. “We also want to spread the message that we need more divers removing lionfish from the Gulf on a regular basis because it’s currently the only way to keep them from taking over our reefs. Even divers coming down for vacation can help by removing a few. Every lionfish killed saves thousands of our native species.”
“As long as I’ve been raising awareness of the invasive lionfish by serving them up on a plate, many of my customers are now familiar with the problems these tasty invaders create in the Gulf and frequently want to know when we will be serving them again,” said Chris Sherrill, executive chef at Flora-Bama Yacht Club.
Lions on the Line features several sponsors and vendors including Back Forty Beer Company who will be showcasing their Lionfish Lager and Guy Harvey with a limited-edition t-shirt for sale during the event. Also, for those wanting to learn more about lionfish and how they can get involved, Wright, Sherrill and several others will be available for questions.
Lionfish Awareness Day and Lions on the Line is being hosted by NUISANCE Group in partnership with Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Marine Resources Division, Eat Alabama Seafood and Flora-Bama Marina in order to raise awareness of the beautiful, yet destructive and invasive lionfish.
For more information on the event or to register for the competition, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lions-on-the-line-lionfish-derby-registration-27445036844.