This year, divers in Florida will once again sharpen their spears, hone their lionfish hunting skills, and map out their fishing grounds to compete in REEF’s 2020 Lionfish Derby Series. Their mission: remove as many lionfish as possible to compete for cash and prizes, plus the satisfaction of protecting native fish species. Since 2010, more than 40,000 lionfish have been removed through REEF supported derbies. Lionfish removals are reducing population densities locally; let’s keep the pressure on and protect our fragile reefs.

The following dates and locations have been set for REEF’s 2020 Lionfish Derby Series:

  • April 3-4: Key Largo - 8th Annual “Winter” Derby at Sharkey’s Pub and Galley
  • July 17-19: Fort Lauderdale - 9th Annual Lionfish Derby at 15th Street Fisheries
  • Sept. 11-13: Islamorada -  11th Annual Upper Keys Lionfish Derby and Festival at Postcard Inn Resort and Marina

Prize categories this year include cash awards for the most, largest and smallest lionfish, plus the Golden Fish Award, a $500 cash raffle for all competing teams regardless of catch. Teams will also be encouraged to sell the majority of their catch after the scoring. Mandatory Captain’s Meetings will be held the Friday before each derby; teams may attend this meeting remotely. The derby festivals will include lionfish tastings, demonstrations, and family-friendly activities. REEF will be hosting Lionfish Collecting and Handling Workshops and lionfish charter dives during each derby weekend. Stay tuned for more details and registration.

The 11th Annual Upper Keys Lionfish Derby will again be at the picturesque Postcard Inn Resort and Marina. The event is an outdoor festival with more than 20 environmentally conscious vendors. Local nonprofits, government agencies and environmentally-minded artisans may register for a booth. On derby day, spectators are encouraged to attend the festivities and taste lionfish samples. For more information and registration, visit this page. Click here to view a video from the 2019 Upper Keys Lionfish Derby and Festival.

Get involved: Volunteers are always welcome at our events. We are also seeking sponsors for our 2020 Lionfish Derbies and Collecting and Handling Workshops. As a sponsor, you can help us continue to encourage and train divers to sustain removal efforts. For more information about sponsorship, click here or email