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Upper Gulfcoast This is the area for spearfishermen in Panama City, Destin/Ft. Walton, Pensacola, Alabama, Miss., and Louisiana.

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Old 03-13-2015, 06:13 PM   #1
Billybob
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Lionfish

I grew up here on the Panhandle of Florida coast spearfishing and I've always killed, cleaned and cooked my own seafood.

Lately the federal government is making it more and more clear that if I intend to enjoy snapper I'd better "take a number" at my local fish counter with my E.B.T card.

for the past several years the limits and seasons have been declining with an apparent ultimate goal of making the gulf of mexico a catch and release fishery only for the private rec guy such as myself.

Now suddenly we have a new "threat" to the fish population. Lionfish! and lo and behold who is called on to be the savior of the gulf of mexico? US! the diving spearfisherman! Well, here's how I see it and would love to hear others thoughts as long as we can be civil and disagree as such.

Lionfish are tasty...VERY tasty.
Lionfish are plentiful (at least here) VERY plentiful
Lionfish are open YEAR ROUND for my spearfishing enjoyment.

so please explain to me how it's in MY best interest to irradicate the Lionfish fishery from our waters.

OK..so some will argue that the Lionfish are non-indigineous and have no natural predators. Some will say that they're deccimating the indigenous species. (I really think Red Snapper are the single biggest threat to the other indigenous species)

My point is this, I want to continue harvesting and eating my OWN fish. I want to teach my son and his sons how to do this.

So what if Lionfish wipe out the indigneous species. I see no future plan to open the snapper fishery back up to me. I get 1 day a year!. I for one will kill lionfish but only to the point of having a nice catch and I pledge to leave the smaller ones on every site so as to maintain and hopefully build this last oepn fishery.

If the commerical guys or charter guys lose revenue due to depleted snapper populations, that's their problem. don't screw me out of my "indigenous birth rite" for your monetary gain and then expect me to contribute to the fisheries long term health by irradicating my last viable fishery. More snapper fry equals more food for my last vestage of a year round fishery....indigenous or not!
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Old 03-13-2015, 06:53 PM   #2
jetro
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Re: Lionfish

http://spearboard.com/attachment.php...1&d=1426262765

Methinks they did not like getting pummeled on Capital Hill.
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Old 03-13-2015, 07:37 PM   #3
Billybob
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Re: Lionfish

So here's the deal...the only group that is not "monitorable" is us the weak, peon Rec guys so we "KNOW" the commerical guys were perfectly monitored and we "KNOW" the head boats were perfectly monitored so these adjustments should ALL belong to the private rec guy right?????

WRONG...it'll lions share go to charters and commercial....you watch. And what if they do??? they'll increase it from ONE DAY REC on MONDAY to 2 days...on on Monday and the other on THURSDAY....so now I only have to sit out 363 days.

by the way...they've closed my trigger for the year...fed and state (FL)



just PLEASE leave my lionfish alone...it's the LAST remaining hope for the rec guy to enjoy an age-old sport!
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Old 03-13-2015, 08:06 PM   #4
jetro
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Re: Lionfish

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Originally Posted by Billybob View Post
So here's the deal...the only group that is not "monitorable" is us the weak, peon Rec guys so we "KNOW" the commerical guys were perfectly monitored and we "KNOW" the head boats were perfectly monitored so these adjustments should ALL belong to the private rec guy right?????

WRONG...it'll lions share go to charters and commercial....you watch. And what if they do??? they'll increase it from ONE DAY REC on MONDAY to 2 days...on on Monday and the other on THURSDAY....so now I only have to sit out 363 days.

by the way...they've closed my trigger for the year...fed and state (FL)



just PLEASE leave my lionfish alone...it's the LAST remaining hope for the rec guy to enjoy an age-old sport!

I have hope that they are beginning to sense a change of direction
in the political winds. Could be overly optimistic but just maybe, they would like to claim victory and step some of the bullshit regs back in the near future(two years or so).

We should all keep our Congressmen and Senators painfully aware of our stance on the fisheries issues that we are so passionate about.
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Old 03-13-2015, 09:53 PM   #5
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Re: Lionfish

As for me and my house, we shall get the Snapper.

I will kill those lion fish to "help the environment", but i am not going out of my way to target them. they remind me of some type of an aquatic "bug" so i aint touching them.

Jetro knows how i feel about bugs, spiders and such.

KC
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Old 03-13-2015, 11:52 PM   #6
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Re: Lionfish

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As for me and my house, we shall get the Snapper.

I will kill those lion fish to "help the environment", but i am not going out of my way to target them. they remind me of some type of an aquatic "bug" so i aint touching them.

Jetro knows how i feel about bugs, spiders and such.

KC
Yep, but even spiders, snakes and bugs are useful in keeping other vermin in check.

As for lionfish, I don't mind jugging em when I get close enough but they are not getting in the boat with me. Last one I had on my shooting line gigged me in the leg.
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Old 03-14-2015, 01:30 AM   #7
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Re: Lionfish

Boy I'm glad I gave up and pulled the flag. You guys got a battle. ONE DAY! Tell me when i need to call or write and complain and i will. Problem here isn't politicians it's the Galapagos shark tax. Can fix that easier with a big hole in the head.
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Old 03-14-2015, 08:35 AM   #8
Billybob
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Re: Lionfish

Hey, you guys don't interpret my message wrong...I DON'T want anyone killing lionfish. They will be the last legal fishery so I hope they THRIVE!

youi guys in LA are lucky. your state got smart enough to tell the feds to go to a land with no snow. In FL we don't get enough snapper days to even make it worth worrying about, add to thaty Grouper is short, like Jul-Oct and Triggerfish was only one month, that being Jan.
The Feds ae agressively shutting the rec guys down! If I want to keep shooting SOMETHIJNG, it clearly will be lionfish and I for one am glad they're here...without them I'd be taking pictures!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mighty KC View Post
As for me and my house, we shall get the Snapper.

I will kill those lion fish to "help the environment", but i am not going out of my way to target them. they remind me of some type of an aquatic "bug" so i aint touching them.

Jetro knows how i feel about bugs, spiders and such.

KC
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Old 03-14-2015, 10:08 AM   #9
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Re: Lionfish

I understand your frustration Billy Bob, but you're not punishing anyone but yourself by standing against lionfish hunting. Like you I realize that a lot of the people pushing us to hunt lionfish are government agencies looking for grant money and conservation groups also looking for grant money but these people don't really like spearfishing. They work against our community in most of their other activities, but then ask us to hunt lionfish for them.

However, just because you hate the messenger it doesn't mean that the message is wrong. The lionfish really are a big problem, and the spearfishing community is the only group who can make a difference keeping them somewhat in check. Pick your battles. I've decided not to hunt anymore REEF lionfish derbies because they are a conservation group who do not really support spearfishing, only spearfishing for lionfish. I will keep actively hunting lionfish as often as I can on my own though, because I know it makes a difference for the future of the rest of our fishery and the grouper/snapper I want to hunt 20 years from now. I will continue to hunt them because I know it is the right thing to do, not because I agree with all of the people telling me I should do it.

Last edited by fishspearit; 03-14-2015 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 03-14-2015, 04:09 PM   #10
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Re: Lionfish

Sounds like they don't have a season for anything left for recreation to protect. Have limited Amberjack during winter when too rough mostly, short grouper, the long liners pound, trying to close barracuda to spearing, No triggers left the snapper ate them all, now no snapper the most abundant fish of all is ONE day? Think Billybob is right they only Allow speros to control lionfish. At least Sheephead spawn in bay away from massive snapper schools till too big to eat or they would be gone too.
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Old 03-14-2015, 09:54 PM   #11
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Re: Lionfish

I hope you're a reasonable person and up to some friendly debate.

I'll try to take your post point by point.

1st, I never took a stand against lionfish hunting, in fact, I encourage it. My stand is against irradicating lionfish, in that it will SOON be the last remaining open fishery for spearfishing and I love spearfishing and I hope to teach my son how to do it.

2nd, many of the people pushing the lionfish annilation are the same types that would declare global warming will kill us all! ( I call them chicken little types that the sky is falling) and much like the G.W. people the issue isn't as presented ....altruistic to protect our future, but rather about ...MONEY!!! these not for profit lionfish are popping up everywhere putting on tourneys that get huge donations from businesses and so it's in their best interest to "fan the flames" which will result in more "awareness" and thus more contributions.


3rd. How do you KNOW that lionfish are a big problem?? I've personally study them and here's some observations I've made,

they are passive predators that ambush hunt much like grouper, so if it doesn't come in close proximity to them the prey has no threat from them.

when a reef has an abundant population of active predators such as Amberjack and Snapper you'll find a significant DECREASE in lionfish (albeit they are generally larger...which is good for me)

Next, are you really so nieve that you believe the spearfishing community can make a significant impact on lionfish? really?

that is about as absurd as believing that I could control the ant population on my 40 acre farm by going out once a week for an hour and killing the ants one at a time with a fork.....simple math will tell you it AIN'T gonna happen.
The good news here is NATURE will find a way to strike a homeostasis within the aquasphere. I just hope nature leaves me enough of these tasty critters that I can continue my hunting of them.FInally...you say you want to hunt grouper and snapper 20 years from now...good luck with that! I hope you have your commercial license. and if not you'd better buy one ASAP!

in case you haven't noticed and perhaps you haven't been at it long enough to notice, but the NMFS IS bringing recreational fishing for harvesting to a HALT (google NOAA vision 2020 and read for yourself, don't take my word for it)

so if all I'm doing is protecting snapper and grouper for some commercial guy so he can sell it at a profit to some guy using EBT, I'll WELCOME the lionfish invasion...at least I get to harvest/eat them!

Anyway...good luck on that 20 year plan to shoot snapper and grouper in 2025, I'm more of a realist and I just HOPE that lionfish are around in 2025 so there will be a viable fishery to harvest private recreational from


Quote:
Originally Posted by fishspearit View Post
I understand your frustration Billy Bob, but you're not punishing anyone but yourself by standing against lionfish hunting. Like you I realize that a lot of the people pushing us to hunt lionfish are government agencies looking for grant money and conservation groups also looking for grant money but these people don't really like spearfishing. They work against our community in most of their other activities, but then ask us to hunt lionfish for them.




However, just because you hate the messenger it doesn't mean that the message is wrong. The lionfish really are a big problem, and the spearfishing community is the only group who can make a difference keeping them somewhat in check. Pick your battles. I've decided not to hunt anymore REEF lionfish derbies because they are a conservation group who do not really support spearfishing, only spearfishing for lionfish. I will keep actively hunting lionfish as often as I can on my own though, because I know it makes a difference for the future of the rest of our fishery and the grouper/snapper I want to hunt 20 years from now. I will continue to hunt them because I know it is the right thing to do, not because I agree with all of the people telling me I should do it.
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Old 03-15-2015, 12:19 AM   #12
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Re: Lionfish

Thanks for posting that Billybob. Very interesting. Could be good could be bad.
IMHO page 17 sounds like a con job headed our way for rec fisherman. (Or its already here). Enjoy the experience without the harvest. B.S.!!!!!
We have to get N.O.A.A. out of here.
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Old 03-15-2015, 01:12 AM   #13
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Re: Lionfish

The main problem in the big scheme of things with NOAA, they are not a seperate scientific organization and, especially us, they fall under the dept of COMMERCE. We aren't making commerce we are recreating. The long liners and charter captains are commerce. The country's regulations revolve around the dollar and we don't produce enough. They manipulate the scientific data to support a hypothosis that supports how to help the money changers.
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Old 03-15-2015, 09:21 AM   #14
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Re: Lionfish

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Originally Posted by Billybob View Post
I hope you're a reasonable person and up to some friendly debate.........3rd. How do you KNOW that lionfish are a big problem??
.......Next, are you really so nieve that you believe the spearfishing community can make a significant impact on lionfish? really?

that is about as absurd as believing that I could control the ant population on my 40 acre farm by going out once a week for an hour and killing the ants one at a time with a fork.....simple math will tell you it AIN'T gonna happen.
The good news here is NATURE will find a way to strike a homeostasis within the aquasphere. I just hope nature leaves me enough of these tasty critters that I can continue my hunting of them.
I'm certainly up to some friendly debate and I'll try to answer your questions. My first hand experience is what makes me believe that the lionfish really are a problem and that spearfishermen can make a difference. I've been hunting them all over florida, the keys, the bahamas, honduras, and a few other places in the caribbean. I've seen how thick they are in places off the beaten path, and I've seen how thin they are in places where people hunt them regularly. Diving in remote areas of the Bahamas I would see coral heads without a single bait sized fish swimming around it, but 10-15 lionfish circling the single coral head. I always check the stomach contents of the lionfish I clean, and often find 5-10 fish in their gorged bellies. I've seen artificial structure that hadn't been hunted in months that was holding a lionfish every couple of feet. They are able to so thickly infest an area that it is obvious even to the casual observer that they are displacing our native fish.

I've also done enough charter boat diving that I see what happens when people hunt a section of reef regularly. Around the caribbean islands or Florida where divemasters regularly carry polespears and remove the lionfish they see you are lucky to find one or two on a dive. Sure, we aren't controlling the depths, there will always be enough down there to provide for your future lionfish fishery. But <150' where we can dive regularly and take them we ARE making a difference in minimizing their population. Using your fire ant analogy, while you are right we will never kill all the ants, and controlling them on your 40 acre farm will be tough, I can certainly control them in my small yard by going out and spreading the ant powder around every mound I see in my yard. Sure, some will come back in a few weeks and I'll have to do it again, but they won't take over my yard as long as I keep fighting them. Same with the lionfish, if we control them on our shallow reefs and estuaries than we are helping our native fish in their nurseries.

I too believe that nature will eventually strike a homeostasis with regards to the lionfish. Until that time, I'm going to give nature a helping hand.

Yes, I have been following the spearfishing regulations for a long time. Look below my profile pic and you'll see I've been a member here since October of 2003, and spearfishing long before that. I care a great deal about maintaining a fishery for the future and our rights to spear those fish. I also think that aggressively attacking the lionfish problem is important to keep that future fishery, even if we don't agree with the rest of the agenda of those telling us to hunt them.
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Old 03-15-2015, 09:59 AM   #15
Billybob
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Re: Lionfish

Well, what I was trying to point out as Riley's Hump said above, is that even if we DO protect the fishery, who are we protecting it for?? NMFS has already, all but said, they are going to make the fisheries of the gulf catch and release for us regardless of how well it recovers!

Now to address your "observations" from diving, I dive a bit myself. For the last 20 years I've only dove private spots with occasional natural bottom spots for bugs.

the 20 years prior to that, it was almost all public. and here's some observations I've made in the 40 years of diving I've done.

First, yes, the "public stuff" (stuff frequented by charters) probably is "cleaned" of lionfish, and if you'll look around, it's probably cleaned of EVERYTHING. but that doesn't clean the litterally 10's of 1000's of other spots which divers could never find them all fast enough and efficiently enough to "contol" lionfish....sure, the public wreck stays "contolled" because it's dove frequently. I garauntee you within a week of snapper season opening (when we GET a week, which, federally, we don't anymore) within that week the snapper are "contolled" as well but I can assure you that one moment in time view of that one wreck offers no evidence that snapper are "contolled"

and speaking of snapper, as I clean snapper...or for that matter triggerfish, grouper, amberjack or any of the other reef fishes I find that they frequently are stuffed with fry, often their OWN fry (snapper in snapper ...etc) and for some reason no one fears the annilation of the fishery over that.

As for spots that haven't been hit in a long time, now that's my specialty and I to have quite a bit of observations which I could even post in video. if a reef/man made reef, isn't frequented, AND it has the right habitat, the active predators will control the lionfish well enough (remember I don't want them annilated) probably not by eating them but rather by out competeing them for the same food! an active predator such as a snapper or Amberjack has "FIRST" dibs on the food. They actively go out and "meet" the food as it approaches the wreck. These fry AREN'T being hatched immediately at the wreck but rather, sometimes, as much as 100 yards or more away out in the sand, with the currents carrying the fry wherever they may go. as passive predators the lionfish only have shots at the small percentage that actually make it back to the reef complex (as well as all other critters that feed the reef area) Nature INTENDED for the fry to be eaten and therefore fish hatches are in the 100,000's to millions per sow. with or without the lionfish the odds of any single egg/fry making it to adulthood is well less than 1%


You go on killing all lionfish you can, the reality is you won't make a dent on the larger picture scale. And as for me and my boat, I will not voluntarily protect a fishery that will only be exploited for commericial gain at the expense of my last remaining recreational fishery. The good news is, at least here, most of the chicken little types are losing the ground swell push and we the rec spearfisherman guys are killing lionfish we want and leaving the rest. I personally believe lionfish reproduce fast enough, that if I just take the eating size fish, I can take all I want and still leave enough that are too small to clean so as to keep the population viable.
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