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Florida Fish and Wildlife Declares Open Season on Lionfish

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently announced changes to the harvesting on lionfish. Namely, that you no longer need a fishing license to catch one (when wearing certain gear).

Which means you're totally screwed, lionfish!

Now before you go thinking this is some kind of act of animal cruelty, keep in mind that the lionfish is one of the biggest pricks in the ocean. They're invasive and nonnative to Floridian waters, which means they're screwing with our ecosystem. And they're ugly.

Native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, lionfish have no natural predators in Atlantic waters, so they've been able to swim worry-free off our coast, rummaging through our oceans like that guy no one ever met whom your uncle brought over for Thanksgiving last year and who ate all the stuffing. Lionfish have been eating all the lobster and preying on food that would normally go to our native fish, such as snapper and smaller fish.

Some believe that lionfish were introduced into Atlantic waters back in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew struck Miami and broke an aquarium containing the fish, releasing them into Biscayne Bay. It's also probable that owners of the fish just got tired of them and illegally released them into local waters.

The changes made by the FWC will apply only through August of next year.

The changes, enacted by an executive order, apply only through August 2013. They are: A recreational fishing license is not required to target lionfish while using a pole spear, a Hawaiian sling (picture included in photo set), a handheld net or any spearing device that is specifically designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish. There is no recreational or commercial harvest bag limit for lionfish.

Lionfish are part of the scorpionfish family, have red, white, and black stripes, and have venomous spikes. Their venom isn't deadly (unless you're allergic to their venom), but they sting like a bitch.

If you do happen to get stung, the FWC says to immerse the wound in hot water or apply heat to the affected area for 30 to 90 minutes to help break down the toxin. You should seek medical attention as soon as you can. Don't ask a friend to pee on the wound (that's a myth). Unless you're into that kind of thing.

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