FORT MYERS -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) invite the public to participate in the 2022 Invasive Fish Roundup event, targeting freshwater invasive fish species. This event takes place from April 28 through May 1, with the weigh-in occurring on Sunday, May 1 from noon until 3 p.m. at Bass Pro Shops, 10040 Gulf Center Drive, Fort Myers, Florida 33913. The weigh-in on Sunday, May 1 at Bass Pro Shops is open to the public. On-site entertainment will include live fish tanks, invasive fish filleting demonstrations, a Gyotaku fish print table and educational tables. There will also be a $5 raffle for various prizes, including a brand new YETI Tundra 45 Cooler.
The roundup is a 3-day event that is open to teams of one to four anglers, fishing from shore or boat in the Southwest Florida CISMA area (Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties) with prizes awarded to the top team in various categories and free giveaway prizes for all participants. The goal of this event is to encourage the public to target invasive species while fishing and to promote awareness of the potential negative impacts of releasing invasive species into Florida’s waterways. This is also an opportunity for Southwest Florida CISMA and the FWC to gather information about invasive fish distribution and abundance, both of which could help with future management of invasive fish species.
“The FWC and our partners encourage the removal and consumptive use of captured nonnative freshwater fish,” said Sarah Funck, FWC Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Program Coordinator. “Removing these invasive species from our waters can benefit native natural resources.”
This event is $10 for participants ages 16 and over and free for kids 15 and under. For more information or to register, visit FloridaInvasives.org/southwest. In addition to special event opportunities such as this one, the FWC encourages the public to report nonnative species sightings using the “IveGot1” app for Apple or Android or online at IveGot1.org.
Nonnative invasive freshwater fish include armored catfish, bichirs, carps, cichlids, climbing goruamis, guppies, swordtails, playts, knifefish, locahes, pacus, tetras, sailfin catfish, Schible catfish, snakeheads, spiny eels, swamp eels and walking catfish.
The FWC also provides opportunities throughout the year for the public to surrender unwanted nonnative pets to be placed with pre-approved adopters without penalty at a 1-day-only Exotic Pet Amnesty Day or year-round by calling the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline at 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681).
For more information about freshwater invasive fish species in Florida, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives and click on “Freshwater Fish.”