Join us for a socially distant Earth Day Lionfish Derby

This is our 8th annual Florida Keys "locals" derby; fishing allowed in Monroe County waters only.

The derby competition will be designed to allow teams and coordinators to maintain safe social distance while still encouraging the removal of lionfish from our reefs!

Event Schedule

Friday, April 23 - Virtual Captain's Meeting* - 6:30pm (6:15 check in) 
An optional “Intro to Invasive Lionfish” webinar will take place at 5:30pm. The webinar is open to all participants, but those new to lionfish hunting are encouraged to attend. 

Saturday, April 24 - Fishing all day, sunrise to sunset

Sunday, April 25 - No fishing, all fish must be turned in to drop-off station at REEF Campus by 10am

Virtual Awards Ceremony - 2pm

*The Captain's Meeting is mandatory for the team captains, and all team members are encouraged to attend. The team captain must be one of the four participants in the derby, but does not need to be the captain of the boat. Safe collecting and handling techniques and derby rules will be reviewed.

IMPORTANT: This year we are hosting a remote attendance of the Captain's Meeting (details will be emailed out). Teams that will be fishing in the areas that fall under the FKNMS and FWC permit must schedule a time to come to REEF campus to pick up packet material, permits and flags during the week of April 19-23rd. 

How much does it cost to participate?

Early Bird Registration Discounts Available
$75 per team on or before April 10, 2021

$100 per team on or before April 23, 2021 (4PM)

Minimum 2 people per team, maximum 4 people

How to Participate:

Step 1: Gather your team. Derby teams can be made of 2-4 divers. Decide on what level you will participate (Apex Predatory or Reef Defender)

Step 2: Pay the Registration Fee for your team.

Pay Registration Fee

Step 3: Register your team.

Team Registration

Step 4: All members of your team need to complete the wavier.

Online Waiver

Step 5: Make sure everyone on your team understands the rules of the Derby.

Derby Rules



Prizes will be awarded for MOST lionfish, SMALLEST and LARGEST lionfish.

During registration teams must choose to compete in one of two Divisions for the Most Lionfish Prize

Apex Predators Division (More Competitive Division; Greater Prize Money)  
Reef Defenders Division (More Casual Division; Lower Prize Money) 

Final cash prizes will be based off registration in each division supplemented by REEF sponsorships. If there are not at least 3 teams registered in each division the divisions will be combined. All teams will compete together for Largest and Smallest lionfish categories. 

Additional Details 

  • Teams will be able to take at least 85% of their catch after it is measured (REEF will keep some lionfish to use towards education and outreach activities). 
  • Local wholesaler Salatino Seafood will be at the derby to purchase the lionfish from interested teams. They will purchase both small and larger lionfish at a great market price.  Teams must have a valid FWC Saltwater Products License to sell their catch.  
  • Teams can also submit their catch through FWC's Commercial Lionfish Harvest Program
  • Final details of drop off stations, time and pick-up instructions will be updated online in the derby rules and via email communication with registered teams. Teams will be required to drop their fish with REEF staff and then return when notified it is ready for pick-up (generally within an hour). Teams are asked not to gather at the drop off station(s). 
  • Drop off times at REEF Campus are Saturday April 24, 2021 4PM-7PM and Sunday April 25, 2021 7AM-10AM. 
  • All lionfish should be well packed on ice and teams must provide enough ice for lionfish that will be held overnight (Saturday night) 
  • All coolers must be picked up no later than 5:00PM Sunday April 25, 2021. 
  • Don't have a boat? Local Charters available. 
  • Rainbow Reef Dive Center and Pirates Cove Watersports in Key Largo are running lionfish dive charters the weekend of the derby**. 
  • If you are interested please call the dive shops directly for rates, times, and more information and to reserve spots on the boat:
  • Pirates Cove Watersports Michael, or 305-453-9881
  • Rainbow Reef Dive Center Maddi Cholnoky, or 800-547-4354
  • Islamorada Dive or (305) 664-3483

**Register and pay for the dives directly through the dive shop; Register and pay for the derby directly through REEF. 

REEF COVID-19 Preparedness Plan 
REEF is committed to providing safe and healthy programming for our team members and guests. To ensure we have safe and healthy programming, we have developed a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. REEF staff and interns are responsible for implementing and comply with all aspects of this COVID-19 Predparedness Plan while providing REEF Programming. Our goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our community while continuing to fulfill meaningful programs, and that requires full cooperation among our team.  

Our COVID-19 Preparedness Plan follows CDC and Monroe County guidelines, federal OSHA standards realated to COVID-19 and Executive Order 20-48. If you have any concerns regarding the health and safety of derby participants or staff members, or would like any clarification on our COVID-19 Preparedness plan, please contact or call 305-852-0030. 

Purchase a REEF Lionfish Neck Gator or Shirt Today!

Special Thanks to our 2021 Sponsors!

Activities occur within NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary under permit.