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Florida's Lionfish May Need To Rehearse Their Final Words

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Flickr user Brian Popik

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is trying to eradicate an invasive species: the lionfish, which swims the South Florida seas.

It's is a funky-looking, red-and-white striped fish. Its fins fan out like a mane, hence the name. But the real image its name should conjure up is of a big bully.

The lionfish population has exploded over the past couple of decades. Its presence has increasingly hurt local native fish and other sea critters.

The commission is pushing new regulation to kick this bully out of the neighborhood. It’s approved a rough draft of rules that would ban the import of lionfish into the state.

“We’ll still allow folks to go out and harvest lionfish live and sell them in the aquariums trades,” assures Amanda Nalley, a representative for the commission. “You’ll [still] be able to get a lionfish for your aquarium. Just instead of importing more into the state, people will be required to go into the water and remove the lionfish that are already there.”

The provision would also relax limitations on people who want to spear hunt the fish — for derbies and tournaments or wearing certain diving gear.

The rules will come back before the commission in June for more edits and final approval.