Community comes together to tame lionfish

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -- Divers took to the water to tame the roaring lionfish population during the Lion-Tamer Dive Tournament and Family Fun Day Sunday at Captain Anderson's marina in Panama City, Florida.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, lionfish were first seen of Florida's Atlantic coast in 1985.

Since then, lionfish have reportedly become a bigger problem. The species is reportedly native to the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea.

"Every year, the turnout for lion fish we have is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, so it's obvious that the problem is getting greater," said Brian Robinson, store manager of Diver's Den.

Because hook -and-line fishing is rarely successful when catching lionfish, experts recommend diver's spear the fish to reduce numbers.

According to Robinson, lionfish are so harmful to the waters because they eat young fish.

During Sunday's event, local craft and food vendors were on display. Chefs cooked lionfish and handed out free samples.

"As far as cooking personally, it's like any other fish that we have. So if you like to grill it, fry it, whatever you like to do, it's excellent in any way," said Robinson.

Kids joined in on the fun during the kids' fishing tournament.

Brother-sister duo Colton and Brielle were the first participants in the event and learned some valuable advice along the way.

"Catching fish is a lot harder than catching fish in the lake," said Colton.

Divers are urged to learn how to spearfish to get rid of lionfish. If you don't know how to dive but still want to help the cause, lionfish are becoming more available to purchase for cooking purposes.

According to FWC, if you see lionfish, you can report the sighting online.

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