Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary encourages the safe removal of invasive lionfish from its waters and issues lionfish removal permits to divers for the collection of lionfish from Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs). The permit allows lionfish to be removed from the SPAs, which are otherwise no-fishing, no-take zones, with hand nets or slurp guns only. Spearguns or pole spears may not be used.
Individuals wishing to apply for a lionfish removal permit must first complete a sanctuary-endorsed lionfish safe-handling and collection workshop. Reef Environmental Education Foundation and the sanctuary host free workshops throughout the Keys annually. For details about the next lionfish workshop, contact .
No permits are required to remove lionfish from areas of the sanctuary where fishing is normally allowed, though be sure to check existing state and federal fishing regulations. A Florida saltwater fishing license is no longer required to harvest lionfish from Florida waters if using handnets, pole spears, Hawaiian slings, or other spearing devices created and marketed exclusively for lionfish collection. There is no recreational or commercial limit on the number of lionfish an individual can collect from Florida.
Additional lionfish removal permit options are made available to dive and snorkel operators participating in the sanctuary’s Blue Star recognition program.
Helpful lionfish facts and tips are available on this Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Lionfish Brochure.
Apply for a Lionfish Removal Permit
To apply for a lionfish removal permit, submit your name, affiliation (dive shop or other business, as applicable), mailing address, telephone number, and the date and location of your completed lionfish workshop to Joanne Delaney, FKNMS Resource Protection and Permit Coordinator, at .