Congressman David Jolly has cosponsored legislation to ban the importation of lionfish into the United States. He says “This bill is another step in an effort to stop the propagation of lionfish. Without action, lionfish have the potential to be economically devastating to marine fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Lionfish lack natural predators in our waters, leading to rapidly increasing populations.”
Lionfish are not native to the waters off Florida’s coast and can consume up to 40 juvenile sport fish per day, can lay up to 2 million eggs per year, and have zero natural predators in the Western Hemisphere.
“Once a population of lionfish becomes established on a reef, their feeding and breeding habits often crowd out native fish. In the coastal waters off Pinellas County, this means damage to economically important grouper and snapper populations. In other areas of the Gulf Coast, lionfish establish themselves in the coastal mangrove and sea grass areas, endangering the principle nurseries of countless native fish species,” Jolly added.
The Lionfish Elimination And Prevention Act of 2015, which was introduced by Congressman Curt Clawson, would ban the importing of all 11 species of lionfish. Additionally, the L.E.A.P. Act would also not interfere with the selling of lionfish fillets, a practice encouraged to help reduce and eliminate the fish from Florida waters.
Congressman Jolly says these fish are significantly reducing our native fish populations and action must be taken to eliminate these predators.