Emerald Coast Open
The 2022 Emerald Coast Open lionfish tournament was a huge success. With 145 participants this year, the lionfish population took a hit. We had several new teams participating and rank this year. After several years of hard work, we were excited to award one of our most active and dedicated teams, Deep Water Mafia with the highest prize of Most Lionfish.
Until next year, we look forward to hearing the stories of conquest and removals, ceviches and tacos and saving our oceans, one speared lionfish at a time. And when the new year turns, sharpen those spears, pay your registrations and once again compete in the largest of competitions, the best of the best… The Emerald Coast Open
See you next year!
SEE OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
|Place||Team Name||Number of Fish|
|1st Place||Deepwater Mafia 1||1,623|
|2nd Place||Lionfish University||1,274|
|3rd Place||All Riled Up||938|
|4th Place||Alabama Jammin||793|
In the Clouds
|6th Place||Down & Out||698|
|1st Place||Big Blue||436mm|
|2nd Place||DWM Black Cat||431mm|
|3rd Place||Lionfish University||428mm|
|4th Place||Bottom Time||424mm|
|5th Place||Alabama Jammin||422mm|
|6th Place||Deepwater Mafia 1||419mm|
|1st Place||Alabama Jammin||39mm|
|2nd Place||Big Blue||46mm|
|3rd Place||Down & Out||51mm|
|4th Place||Lookin Back||52mm|
|5th Place||Honkey Dory||73mm|
|6th Place||Lionfish University||74mm|
Total Standings by Team
|Place||Team Name||Number of Fish|
|1||Deepwater Mafia 1||1,623|
|3||All Riled Up||938|
|5||In The Clouds||771|
|6||Down & Out||698|
|15||DWM Black Cat||267|
|16||Poseidon’s Pcola Possee||184|
|19||Boyles Law and Disorder||135|
|2-day Total Lionfish Removed||11,253|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Board of County Commissioners
May 19, 2022
Destin-Fort Walton Beach Hosts World’s Largest Lionfish Tournament
Okaloosa County, Fla. – Divers participating in the 4th Annual Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Tournament successfully removed 13,835 lionfish from local waters. The invasive species prey on native fish and have no known predators due to their venomous spines. Hosted by Destin-Fort Walton Beach, alongside Florida Fish and Wildlife at HarborWalk Village and AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, this event is a key component in mitigating the risk of a growing lionfish threat.
“We are fortunate to have a Coastal Resources Division in our community, focused on awareness and reducing the population of this invasive species,” said Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mel Ponder.
Divers from all over the country traveled to Destin-Fort Walton Beach for the spearfishing tournament held on May 13th and 14th. An award ceremony was held on Sunday announcing the winners of various categories including most lionfish removed, largest and smallest. The record for the smallest lionfish was broken at 39 millimeters during the main tournament by Alabama Jammin. Diver Tim Shivers collected 604 lionfish during the pre-tournament which surpassed the 2019 record. Thanks to Emerald Coast Open sponsors, participants were awarded $48,000 in cash and approximately $50,000 in prizes. Click HERE for a list of this year’s winners.
Several events were held over the weekend in conjunction with the tournament including The Lionfish Removal & Awareness Day Festival hosted with Florida Fish and Wildlife which garnered 5,000 attendees. Over 40 vendors were in attendance with educational activities that focused on conservation efforts. Lionfish & Libations was a new event held at HarborWalk Village. These events allowed locals and visitors to learn about lionfish and even have the chance to experience tastings.
Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Restaurant Week was held the week leading up to the tournament. Each evening, a local restaurant served a unique lionfish dish on their menu. The fish caught pre-tournament were provided to the participating restaurants to serve. The lionfish dishes were scored by a host of judges including a New Yorker Magazine journalist and Chief Scientist for NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries. A scoring system was used and Chef Al Massa took the highest marks with Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer creation. They presented a Lionfish Pan-Seared dish with Black Forbidden Rice, Melting Zucchini Ribbons, with a Chardonnay Shellfish butter.
“We couldn’t be happier with the success of this year’s Emerald Coast Open Tournament with 145 tournament participants and 50 volunteers donating their time. Thank you to our sponsors for their support that continues the growth of the tournament and the education of lionfish management. The removal of this many lionfish from our local water restores the ecosystem, especially as we head into a busy fishing season,” said Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Manager, Destin-Fort Walton Beach.
By the Numbers