It's that time again: our biggest REEF Lionfish Derby of the year, the Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival, is taking place next weekend, on Sept. 9-12. This is our 12th annual REEF Lionfish Derby hosted in the Florida Keys. With two full days of lionfish hunting and more than $6,000 in cash prizes up for grabs, plus a family-friendly festival, this is a great way for everyone to take a bite out of lionfish!
Teams of two to four people may register to compete in the derby. Registration is $100 per team. Teams may register in either the Apex Predators division (More competitive, higher prize money) or Reef Defenders (More casual, lower prize money.) Registration will close at 5pm on Thursday, Sept. 9. A Captain's Meeting to discuss safe collecting and handling procedures and derby rules will be held the same day at 6:30pm. Participants may choose to attend the meeting in person at the REEF Campus, or join virtually. More details will be emailed to registered teams. Derby participants may hunt lionfish from sunrise to sunset on Friday, Sept. 10 and Saturday, Sept. 11. Lionfish drop off stations will be available at designated hours throughout the weekend at the REEF Campus in Key Largo, Postcard Inn Resort & Marina in Islamorada, and Mote Marine Laboratory in Summerland Key.
The derby weekend will conclude on Sunday, Sept. 12 with a lionfish festival at the picturesque Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina in Islamorada, Florida. The festival is open to the public from 11am-3pm, and will feature lionfish tastings (individually portioned to ensure safe food handling), drink specials, demonstrations, games, interactive booths from environmentally-minded vendors, and live music from The Copper Tones, South Florida’s Soulgrass band. We'll also have an awards ceremony to announce the derby winners! Cash prizes will be awarded to the teams who harvest the most, largest, and smallest lionfish.
REEF is thankful for the support of our host venue, Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina. Home of the Original Rum Runner and World Famous Tiki Bar, this sprawling resort has a private sandy beach, two swimming pools, and onsite restaurants, as well as a marina and dive shop, allowing easy access to the ocean. Hotel guests will enjoy high-speed Internet, parking, access to beach chairs, bicycles, snorkel gear, kayaks, paddle boards, ping pong and corn hole, and more. For more information, visit www.holidayisle.com.
For more details about the event, check out the Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival Facebook event. You can also stay up to date on derby info and connect with other teams by joining the REEF Invasive Lionfish Facebook Group.
For those who are not able to attend the Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival in person, we will be livestreaming portions of the event throughout the weekend on Facebook and Instagram. All times listed below are in Eastern time.
2021 Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival Social Media Livestream Schedule
Saturday, Sept. 11 at 6pm: Lionfish dissection and anatomy lesson
Sunday, Sept. 12 at 11am: Lionfish scoring, overview of derby stations including fillets, dissection, and ceviche prep
1pm: Lionfish cooking demo with chef
2:30pm: Awards ceremony
If you have any questions, please contact lionfish@REEF.org or call (305) 852-0030. We hope to see you at the 2021 REEF Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival!
PHOTO: Culinary tasting at a REEF Lionfish Derby (photo taken pre-pandemic)