Navarre Beach Marine Science Station photo
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at its October meeting announced the winners of this year’s Lionfish Challenge, including Carl Antonik of Navarre, who took home the second place trophy for removing 1,582 invasive lionfish.
“It was quite a challenge to get those,” Antonik, who owners Under Pressure Divers based in Navarre. “We also took place in the Emerald Coast Open out of Destin in May, taking in around 1,600.”
Antonik uses a small spear pole to take the fish and occasionally sees lionfish at in Santa Rosa Sound and at the nearshore reef in Navarre. He said they’re also spotted at the artificial reef located about one mile south of Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.”
The lionfish removal and incentive program ended Sept. 6 (Labor Day). A total of 21,146 lionfish were removed during the 3.5-month program. In addition, 471 people registered and 185 people submitted lionfish, the highest participation number since the Challenge began in 2016.
- Recreational Category
- First place Lionfish King: Brooks Feeser, Palm Beach County, 1,632 removed.
- Second place: Carl Antonik, Santa Rosa County, 1,582 removed.
- Third place: Christina Raber-Jehn, Palm Beach County, 1,475 removed.
- Commercial Category
- First place Commercial Champion: Rachel Bowman, Monroe County, 730 pounds removed.
- Second place: Paul DeCuir, Escambia County, 725 pounds removed.
- Third place: Alex Fogg, Okaloosa County, 657 pounds removed.
First place winners received a customized trophy, $150 for SCUBA air fills, an HP 100 SCUBA cylinder, and will be featured in the 2021 Saltwater Regulations publication and in the FWC Lionfish Hall of Fame.
- 21,146 lionfish removed.
- 185 people submitted lionfish (172 recreational, 13 commercial).
The Lionfish Challenge is a summer-long (May 21-Sept. 6, 2021) tournament that rewards divers for their lionfish harvests. The tournament is open to everyone, is completely free to enter and participants can compete from anywhere in the state. Divers receive prizes based on the amount of lionfish they harvest and compete for the title of the Lionfish King/Queen or Commercial Champion.