Florida: Governor DeSantis Highlights Coral Reef Conservation Efforts and Enhancements to the 2024 Lobster Mini-Season and the 2024 Lionfish Challenge
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MARATHON, Fla. ~ In a recent press conference, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida highlighted the state's significant investments in protecting coral reefs and announced exciting updates to the 2024 Lionfish Challenge and 2024 Lobster Mini-Season.

Through the FY 2024-2025 Focus on Florida's Future Budget, Governor DeSantis has allocated a historic $57 million for coral reef restoration and coastal protection. This brings the total investment in these efforts during his second term to over $114 million. These investments have been made with the aim of preserving Florida's natural treasures and maintaining its status as the "Boating and Fishing Capital of the World."

In addition to this, Governor DeSantis also announced $5 million in funding for creating 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.

Earlier this year, Governor DeSantis had also allocated $9.5 million to Florida's Coral Reef Restoration and Recovery Initiative. These investments in coral reefs through the state budget exceed the total amount requested by the Biden administration for coral reef restoration across the entire United States.

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During his speech, Governor DeSantis stated that "Florida has the best fishing and boating in the world because we have the greatest natural resources." He emphasized that these record investments are crucial for protecting these resources. He also announced additional prizes for this year's annual Lionfish Challenge and an extra day for Floridians to harvest lobster.

FWC Executive Director Roger Young echoed Governor DeSantis' sentiments, stating that "the Keys exemplify Florida as the Boating and Fishing Capital of the World." He also expressed gratitude towards Governor DeSantis' support in conserving natural resources and removing invasive species like lionfish that negatively impact Florida's waters.

Governor DeSantis also revealed that an additional day will be added to the 2024 recreational spiny lobster mini-season, exclusively for Florida residents. This year, the mini-season will take place on Wednesday, July 24 and Thursday, July 25, with the additional day being Sunday, July 14. The regular commercial and recreational lobster season will begin on August 6, 2024 and end on March 31, 2025.

To combat the threat posed by invasive lionfish, Governor DeSantis also highlighted the ongoing 2024 Lionfish Challenge. This statewide program allows the public to engage in conservation by hunting lionfish to win prizes and contribute to protecting Florida's natural resources. Interested participants can register at FWCReefRangers.com and choose to join either the recreational or commercial category.

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Since its inception in 2014, over one million lionfish have been removed from Florida's oceans through the Lionfish Challenge. This year's challenge features a tiered prize system based on the number of lionfish harvested. 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. Additionally, Tier 1 participants traditionally get to keep one additional spiny lobster per day during the Lobster Mini-Season as a prize. However, Governor DeSantis announced that this year, Tier 1 participants will get to keep two additional lobsters per day.

For more information on the ongoing Lionfish Challenge or the upcoming Lobster Mini-Season in 2024, interested individuals can visit FWCReefRangers.com. With these investments and initiatives in place, Governor DeSantis and his administration are committed to preserving Florida's natural resources for future generations to come.

Filed Under: Government, State

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