Although our 2018 Summer Lionfish Derby Series has come to a close, REEF is continuing invasive lionfish education and removal efforts through Collecting and Handling Workshops throughout southern Florida. The goal of the workshops is to educate the public about the invasive lionfish, as well as practice safe removal methods and provide participants with permits issued by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for removal of lionfish in the Sanctuary Preservation Areas using hand nets only. The workshops are free and open to the public, and experienced as well as novice lionfish hunters are invited to participate. The first workshop of the season was successfully held on Oct. 24 in Big Pine Key. Forty-two people successfully completed the workshop and now have the tools and training to collect invasive lionfish. On Nov. 30, another workshop was held in Stuart, and the final workshop of the year will be held in Miami on Dec. 19. The workshops consists of a morning classroom portion to educate participants about lionfish biology, ecology, history, and techniques on how to handle the venomous species. Following the classroom lesson, attendees can join REEF staff and interns for a dive trip to practice their new skills.

Financial support for these workshops is provided by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), through the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF). Additional Lionfish Collecting and Handling Workshops will be scheduled in 2019, and all upcoming workshop dates will be listed here. The workshops and dives are free, but space is limited, so registration is required. For more information, visit our Lionfish Education and Outreach page.