On July 23, Congressman Curt Clawson (FL) introduced the LEAP Act of 2015, (H.R. 3202) which would ban the importation of 11 lionfish species, including nine species that do not yet inhabit U.S. waters. The legislation comes in response to the rapidly growing lionfish population in Florida’s coastal waters.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), along with 15 other state and national fishing, boating and environmental organizations, publicly supported the introduction of H.R. 3202 as a major step towards preventing further introductions of harmful lionfish into Florida’s pristine fisheries.
Lionfish is an invasive species in Florida, and a single adult is estimated to consume upwards of 40 juvenile sportfish daily. With no natural predators in the Western Hemisphere and an ability to lay up to two million eggs annually, the growing lionfish population could potentially strain many of Florida’s fisheries and harm the natural marine ecosystem in the region.
“Legislation like the LEAP Act is critical to preventing additional introductions of lionfish, which could further compound efforts to control the growing populations already established in Florida’s coastal waters,” said CSF Fisheries Program Director Chris Horton. “Florida’s fisheries and the success of the state’s recreational angling community depends, in large part, on preventing and combating invasive species that damage the natural aquatic ecosystem and negatively impact local sportfish populations.”
Sound conservation policy like H.R. 3202 is essential to protecting Florida’s fisheries and the over three million recreational anglers who enjoy the Sunshine State’s marine resources annually.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?