1215 Lionfish Caught During Winter Derby

February 24, 2021

The 7th annual Winter Lionfish Derby took place from January 1st through 31st, 2021, and had 74 active participants who successfully caught 1215 lionfish – which the organisers said was “the most lionfish ever caught in Bermuda during a single month.”

A spokesperson said, “Since 2013, the Bermuda Lionfish Task Force [BLTF] has brought together the various partners working to control the impacts of invasive lionfish on Bermuda’s marine environment.

Winter Lionfish Derby Bermuda Feb 2021 (1)

“An important activity for the BLTF is organizing up to four culling tournaments each year, the largest being the Winter Derby, which has been held every January since 2015.

“The 7th annual Winter Lionfish Derby took place from January 1st through 31st, 2021, and had 74 active participants who successfully caught 1215 lionfish – the most lionfish ever caught in Bermuda during a single month. Participants from a broad cross section of Bermuda braved cold water and challenging conditions, with some of them going out culling almost every day.

Winter Lionfish Derby Bermuda Feb 2021 (2)

“This year’s winning freediving team was ‘Natural Born Killers’, who managed to cull 318 lionfish, followed by ‘Team Makin Waves’ with 172 fish. In the SCUBA category, team ‘Un-Stung’ was in first place with a total of 47 fish, followed by ‘LIT Divers’ in second place with a total of 40 fish.

“Additional prizes were awarded to the top individual cullers, with the first place winner singlehandedly capturing 145 lionfish, as well as for the smallest and largest fish captured during the tournament. [More information is available at www.lionfish.bm]

“The BLTF would like to express our appreciation to the Bermuda businesses and individuals who help support the Winter Derby, as well as the other culling events.

“This year’s Derby sponsors include: Adrienne Smatt Designs, Atlantic Lion share, Bermuda Apnea, Bermuda Zoological Society, Blue Horizon Diving, BLTF, Blue Hole Watersports, BUEI, Blue Water Divers, C-mart, Conyers Imports, Dive Bermuda, Goslings, Lindo’s, Makin’ Waves, Marine Locker, Miles Market & PW’s Marine, Pixie Grotto, On-IT Consulting, Spar Yard, and Sexy Reef Ambassadors.

Winter Lionfish Derby Bermuda Feb 2021 (3)

“Lionfish culling takes place throughout the year and, for the licensing year finishing January 31st, 2021, there were 107 active cullers who lead the efforts to control this invasive species. Between them, these cullers removed a reported 3099 lionfish from Bermuda’s waters during the past year. This total compares with 2806 lionfish culled during the previous year, an increase of 10%.

“While every single lionfish removed from Bermuda’s waters helps, much of the culling is done by a small number of very dedicated people who deserve special recognition. Top cullers for 2020-21 also received awards this week, with Chris Cabral, who culled a total of 640 fish, as the Lionfish King, and Jade Williams, who culled 109 fish, as the Lionfish Queen.

Winter Lionfish Derby Bermuda Feb 2021 (4)

“Since catch reporting started in 2013, the number of lionfish culled each year has continued to increase, indicating that Bermuda’s invasive lionfish population is still expanding.

“Anyone who wishes to become a lionfish culler must attend a training course in order to obtain the necessary permit, which is issued by the Bermuda Government Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR]. Please email permits@lionfish.bm for more information on the next available culling class.

Winter Lionfish Derby Bermuda Feb 2021 (5)

“DENR has also established a vendor program that allows some of the most active lionfish cullers to sell their catch to restaurants and grocery stores, increasing the supply of lionfish to the market and allowing members of the public the opportunity to do their bit for marine conservation by eating this invasive species.”


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Comments (3)

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  1. LRC says:

    This is excellent! A special thank you to all who participate in this effort. I recommend an Easter & Summer camp designed to teach teenagers how to cull Lionfish. There is a lack of activities for the 14+ age group and this would be a perfect opportunity to teach a skill that they can use to protect their environment for a lifetime. To those who have the skills, please consider it. I have a willing and able teenager to send along!

  2. sage says:

    Great job, still feel the exclusive ‘vendor program’ smacks of cronyism. This is an invasive species, conservation laws don’t apply to them, i want to buy lion fish from a fisherman at around $10/lb not the set rate of $20 plus having to pay an unnecessary middleman (supermarket) on top.

    • Sandgrownan says:

      Just declare open season the critters, no license needed, just get on with it.