During the 2023 Emerald Coast Open, 144 competing divers removed 24,699 invasive lionfish from the Gulf of Mexico. With support from Yamaha Rightwaters as well as many local, national and international conservation-minded organizations, the annual event set records for largest lionfish (five times) as well as the number of lionfish caught in both the pre-tournament and main tournament.
“The mitigation of aquatic invasive species is one of the four pillars of the Yamaha Rightwaters mission,” said Martin Peters, Director, External Affairs, Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit. “The Emerald Coast Open helps foster healthy marine environments in the Gulf while educating the public about the damage a large lionfish population can cause. Yamaha Rightwaters will continue to support this tournament and applauds the effort to help the Gulf of Mexico thrive as a strong fishery.”
Lionfish prey on more than 167 different native fish species and can reduce some reef fish populations by up to 90 percent. They are capable of eating fish 2/3 their size and one lionfish can consume roughly 20 fish in a half hour.
“Since its inception in 2019, the Emerald Coast Open helped remove more than 72,000 total lionfish from Gulf waters,” said Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Manager, Destin – Fort Walton Beach and Emerald Coast Open Organizer. “The tournament not only yields immediate results and improvement within our fisheries it also demonstrates that catching lionfish is fun – and they are tasty! We’re glad to have the support of Yamaha Rightwaters and look forward to developing our relationship as we begin to plan for the 2024 tournament.”