2021 Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival

REEF's 12th annual event will include two full days of lionfish fishing culminating in a family-friendly festival at picturesque Postcard Inn Resort & Marina. The festival is open to the public and will include Lionfish scoring, fillet and dissection demonstrations, Lionfish tastings, Lionfish games and crafts, raffle prizes, and other activities and products from 30 environmentally-minded vendors. Chefs will be providing lionfish cooking demonstrations and special dishes and drink special will be available. 

Live Music by South Florida's Soulgrass Band The Copper Tones 

Festival vendor space available for nonprofits, government organizations, and artisinal vendors.

Lionfish Festival Vendor Application

Event Schedule

Thursday, Sept. 9 6:30PM - Captain's Meeting, REEF Campus, Key Largo, FL (details below) 

Friday, Sept. 10 and Saturday, Sept. 11 - Fishing sunrise to sundown

Sunday, Sept. 12 - No fishing; final drop-off 11AM 

11AM - 3PM Festival at Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina in Islamorada, Florida

Awards Ceremony 2:30PM

How much does it cost to participate?

Early Bird Registration Discounts Available
$75 per team before July 10, 2021

$85 per team before August 10, 2021

$100 per team on or before September 9, 2021 (5PM)

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: Complete the Registration Form and pay the Registration Fee for your team.

Register and Pay

Step 3: All members of your team need to complete the wavier.

Online Waivers

Step 4: 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) 


All teams will compete together for Largest and Smallest lionfish categories. 

Additional Details 

  • 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 will be offering 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 September 5, 2021.
  • Teams will be able to take at least 80% 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. 
  • Drop off stations will be in Lower Keys (Mote Marine Lab) and Upper Keys (REEF campus and Postcard Inn Resort).
  • Drop Locations & Times
    Friday September 10, 2021
    REEF Campus, Key Largo, FL – 5PM to 8PM
    Mote Marine Lab Summerland Key – 5PM to 8PM

    Saturday September 11, 2021
    REEF Campus, Key Largo, FL – 5PM to 9PM

     Sunday September 12, 2021
     Mote Marine Lab, Summerland Key – 8AM to 10:30AM
     Postcard Inn Resort & Marina – 9AM to 11AM 

  • Teams must attend awards ceremony at Postcard Inn Resort and Marina to win prizes.   
  • All lionfish should be well packed on ice and teams must provide enough ice for lionfish particularly those that will be held overnight 
  • Fish dropped off on Friday or Saturday and picked up by teams before Sunday will have their pectoral fin clipped.
  • Postcard Inn is offering a special room rate for derby and festival attendees. Rooms must be booked by August 20th to secure the special rate. Secure the rate through this link or call 844-471-5433. Detailed information about the Postcard Inn room package can be found here.
  • Don't have a boat? Local Charters are available email lionfish@REEF.org for more details.  
  • a.       Key Dives: 305-664-2211
             i.      Friday, Sept. 10 Morning and Afternoon
             ii.      Saturday, Sept. 11 Morning ONLY
    b.       Islamorada Dive Center: 305-664-3483
              i.      Friday, Sept. 10 AND Saturday, Sept. 11 Morning and Afternoon
    c.       Tilden’s Scuba Center: 305-743-7255
              i.      Friday, Sept. 10 AND Saturday, Sept. 11 Morning and Afternoon
    d.       Captain’s Corner Dive Center: 305-296-8865
              i.      Friday, Sept. 10 AND Saturday, Sept. 11 Afternoon ONLY

COVID-19 precautions 
REEF will be following all CDC guidelines and we encourage participants who are eligible to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Participants are also encouraged to wear masks when in large crowds, maintain social distancing, and frequently wash hands. All Derby events will be held outdoors or be offered virtually. REEF will be increasing sanitization, providing numerous hand sanitizing stations, and following best practices for sage food handling. We are continuously monitoring the status of COVID-19 within the region and the safety of our REEF Family is our priority. 

Special Thanks to our 2021 Program Sponsors!










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