Hunting for lionfish comes with a prize, courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
More than 5,000 of the venomous fish have already been removed from Florida waters as part of this year’s Lionfish Challenge, a statewide removal incentive program run by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) each year. And there’s still another month to catch them. The program, which began May 20 on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, concludes Sept. 4 and rewards harvesters with T-shirts, tumblers, heat packs, pole spears and spiny lobsters.
Qualifying for the program requires catching 25 lionfish, or 25 pounds worth of fish, and harvesters can qualify for more prizes as they retrieve more fish. The person who catches the most recreationally by the end of the challenge is crowned the Lionfish King or Queen at the Lionfish Safari on Sept. 9 in St. Petersburg.
FWC decals support manatees, sea turtles: Manatees and sea turtles are a fixture of Florida life. With more than 6,000 manatees swimming through the state’s bodies of water and thousands more sea turtles nesting on its beaches, Florida has the nation’s largest population of both species. Each July, the FWC introduces a new decal to express support of manatees and sea turtles, available for just a $5 donation.
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“Florida is home to more manatees and sea turtles than anywhere else in the U.S.,” said Carol Knox, who leads the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section, in a statement. “Public support has been critical in helping us conserve these imperiled species, so please stick on a decal, and show support for our manatees and sea turtles.”
Funds from the decal donations go to fund research, rescue and management efforts for both species. Decals can be purchased when registering or re-registering a vehicle at the tax collectors’ offices.
Sea Ray Boats cuts back production: Sea Ray Boats laid off 90 people at its Flagler County manufacturing facility and another 130 people are being temporarily furloughed, according to officials at parent company Brunswick Corp. The layoffs and furloughs will affect about 40 percent of the 560 employees at the plant. These are the first layoffs at the Flagler County facility since 2012, when Sea Ray laid off 65 workers.
“These actions were to align our production levels with market demand in the 40- to 49-foot segment of our business while continuing to maintain our production capabilities in stronger segments of the business,” Brunswick spokesman Daniel Kubera said in an email from the company’s Lake Forest, Illinois headquarters.
Kubera said no boat models are being discontinued nor is any production being moved to other company facilities.
“Numbers are being eased to align production levels to market demand,” Kubera said in the email.
This report contains material from the Daytona Beach News-Journal.