Governor DeSantis Highlights Coral Reef Conservation Efforts and Enhancements to the 2024 Lobster Mini-Season and the 2024 Lionfish Challenge

Government and Politics

June 19, 2024

From: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

MARATHON, FL - On June 19, 2024, Governor Ron DeSantis highlighted Florida’s investments in coral reef protection and announced enhancements to the 2024 Lionfish Challenge and 2024 Lobster Mini-Season. Through the FY 2024-2025 Focus on Florida’s Future Budget, the Governor invested a historic $57 million for coral reef restoration and coastal protection, bringing the total investment in these efforts in the Governor’s second term to over $114 million.

The Governor also highlighted $5 million in funding to create additional artificial reef habitats through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). This funding will support the establishment of an innovative framework for installing, overseeing, and preserving artificial reef habitats in the Florida Keys.

And earlier this year, Governor DeSantis allocated $9.5 million to Florida’s Coral Reef Restoration and Recovery Initiative.

This year’s investments in coral reefs through the Florida state budget exceed the total investment requested by the Biden administration for coral reef restoration across the entire United States.

“Florida has the best fishing and boating in the world because we have the greatest natural resources,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “That’s why our state is making record investments in protecting our natural treasures, like our coral reefs. Additionally, I was pleased today to announce additional prizes for the annual Lionfish Challenge and an extra day for Floridians to harvest lobster.”

“From lobstering to world-class fishing, the Keys exemplify Florida as the Boating and Fishing Capital of the World,” said FWC Executive Director Roger Young. “Through Governor DeSantis’ support of conserving our natural resources, we will continue to promote the removal of invasive species—such as the lionfish—that negatively impact our waters.”

The Governor also announced that in addition to the 2024 recreational spiny lobster mini-season that will be Wednesday, July 24, and Thursday, July 25, an additional day will be added Sunday, July 14, exclusively for Florida residents. The regular commercial and recreational lobster season will begin on August 6, 2024, and end on March 31, 2025.

Finally, to combat the threat posed by invasive lionfish, Governor DeSantis spotlighted the 2024 Lionfish Challenge that is running through September 2, 2024. This statewide program allows the public to engage in conservation by hunting lionfish to win prizes and contribute to protecting Florida’s natural resources.

Participants can register at FWCReefRangers.com and choose to join either the recreational or commercial category. Since 2014, over one million lionfish have been removed from Florida’s oceans through the Lionfish Challenge. This challenge features a tiered prize system, rewarding divers based on the number of lionfish they harvest. Participants who reach Tier 1 by harvesting 25 lionfish in the recreational category (or 50 pounds of lionfish in the commercial category) will receive a commemorative 2024 Lionfish Challenge Coin. Traditionally, Tier 1 participants keep one additional spiny lobster per day during the Lobster Mini-Season as a prize. However, the Governor today announced that, this year, Tier 1 participants will get to keep two additional lobsters per day.

For more information on the 2024 Lionfish Challenge or the 2024 Lobster Mini-Season, click here.