A bright, colorful fish with poisonous spines, lionfish are native to Indonesia, but were first spotted off the Florida coast in 1985. With only a precious few natural predators to keep the species in check, this invasive lionfish population has exploded, conquering the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Lionfish are currently found as far north as Rhode Island all the way down to Panama and Venezuela.
Researchers from Oregon State University referred to the fish as a “terminator” sort of predator, staying in one area to devour smaller fish and mollusks — often until the local population goes extinct. This is disastrous for local favorites such as baby grouper, baby snapper, baby lobster, and many more.
Unfortunately, the lionfish problem isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting worse! A recent NOAA study found that warming water temperatures due to climate change will only expand the range of tropical fish, including the invasive and poisonous lionfish.
The good news here is: You can help!
The lionfish has proven to be difficult to kill, but the NOAA, researchers, and concerned members of the marine community are coming up with a few ideas for curbing the lionfish’s takeover. From calling on locals to report sightings of lionfish and training sharks to go after them, probably the most effective way to reduce their population is to hunt and eat them ourselves! While the spines are poisonous to humans, the meat of the fish is perfectly harmless.
Restaurants all along the Atlantic coast, including Grill’s Seafood Deck in Port Canaveral, have added lionfish to their menus in an effort to incentivize the fishing of lionfish, and, surprisingly, they’re quite tasty! The white, flaky, mild meat has been met with very positive responses from local Port Canaveral seafood lovers.
Port Canaveral has an environmental initiative underway to study and remove invasive lionfish from the harbor. The Port Canaveral Lionfish Project, sponsored by the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, aims to increase local awareness, assess the population of lionfish in the Port Canaveral area, and begin their removal from critical habitats. While lionfish within sensitive areas of the Port can only be harvested by specially credentialed divers, the public and commercial fisherman are encouraged to collect as many lionfish offshore as possible.
Care to Try Your Hand at Spearfishing?
Florida fisherman have attested to the excitement and fun that comes with the primal act of spearing a fish right out of the water. If nothing else, this might just become your next thrilling recreational hobby!
If you spot one while offshore, remove it from the water, either by spearfishing, or using a handheld net. You do not need a license to fish for lionfish when targeting them with a pole spear, Hawaiian Sling, handheld net or any spearing device.
Bonus: At the end of the month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will allow fishermen to take one extra spiny lobster each day during the two-day sport season this summer (July 29-30), provided that they also harvest 10 lionfish. This incentive is for the 2015 season only.
For some great info on catching lionfish using hand nets, safe handling practices, lionfish recipes, where to sell them and more, click here.
Now managed by the Harbortown Marina Crew and Staff, our on-site marina store has been fully renovated, and stocks new products including a large variety of marine supplies. Need paint or other items special-ordered? We’ve got you covered! Just let us know what you need, and we’ll have it waiting for you at the Harbortown Store as soon as the next day!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the marina store inside Harbortown Marina’s office 7:30am – 5:30pm.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic officially runs from June 1 – November 30. The threat of a strong storm or hurricane could develop at any moment during this time, requiring action on your part to get your family and your boat ready for high wind speeds, rapidly changing tides, and potential evacuation.
Here are some tips to help you get your boat ready in the case of a hurricane:
1. Have a plan in place ahead of time.
This is really the best thing you can do to prepare for a storm. With a plan in place, you can spend the 48-72 hours of notice that’s usually given before a storm hits as efficiently as possible, minimizing the risk that your boat or surrounding property will suffer damage. Having a plan in place for a hurricane situation will also help you avoid long lines in stores and chaos on the roads, saving you both time and peace of mind.
2. Get your boat to a safe haven, or out of the water.
If your boat is small enough to remove from the water, move it to dry storage, or a secure location above likely flood areas. Large boats should be transported to a safe haven as far from the open waterway as possible. Keep in mind drawbridges may cease operation before a storm, so make passage through these as soon as possible.
Harbortown Marina is located in a protected harbor with minimal tidal changes, even during storms. If your boat is stored here, either in our dry rack storage, or a wet slip, there is no need to move your boat.
3. Secure your boat, and protect it from impact.
Gather extra fenders and used tires to protect your boat from any vulnerable angles. Double up on mooring lines, but tie them up high and leave enough slack for your boat to move with the tide. Secure all hatches, and seal all openings. Remove all loose items from the vessel, and lash down anything likely to shift around during a storm.
4. Remove all valuables and documents from your vessel – especially insurance information!
Damage to piers and other boats caused by your vessel is legally your responsibility, so you’ll want to make sure that you have all of your insurance information handy after the storm, just in case. Other important documents and valuables should also be removed from your boat.
5. Other items to keep in mind as you prepare for a hurricane:
- Shut off fuel lines and thru-hull fittings
- Make an inventory of items left aboard
- Change the batteries in your bilge pump, and make sure it works
- Turn off all other devices that use electricity
- Never leave a boat on davits or a lift
- Store trailered boats near a wall, home or another place where limbs or trees cannot fall and damage them
- Double lines, and keep them high on pilings
- Take photographs of your vessel for insurance purposes
- DON’T STAY ON YOUR BOAT!
Moving Your Boat to a Safe Location Ahead of Time:
For a limited time, Harbortown is offering a Hurricane Special for new boaters looking for a safe place to store their boat during hurricane season. View our current specials for more information.
What is National Marina Day?
Each year, in every corner of the country, marine businesses collaborate to hold events designed to introduce the public to boating. Some of the goals of National Marina Day include raising awareness of standard boating safety procedures, growing the boating population across North America, and just celebrating the “Life on the Water” lifestyle that so many of us enjoy.
What’s Happening at Harbortown Marina on National Marina Day 2015?
On National Marina Day, splash your boat or visit Harbortown to fill up on our ethanol-free fuel and receive FREE Hot Dogs for you and your crew! It’s well-known that we have the cheapest fuel on the Space Coast, and you can save an extra 5 cents per gallon when you sign up for Harbortown Rewards.
From there, if you’d like to step off your boat for a complimentary behind-the-scenes tour of the marina, one of our crew members will be happy to take you around, and buy you a drink at Nautical Spirits Bar & Grill (the on-site restaurant) afterward.
Hot dogs are provided for all; however, the complimentary tour and drink offer is only valid for those that are not currently a customer of Harbortown Marina.
We Hope to See You at Harbortown for National Marina Day on Saturday, June 13, 2015!
Visit www.nationalmarinaday.org view a list of 2015 participants and partners, or to get more information about National Marina Day!