February 1, 2024 – May 16, 2024

Pre-tournament Rules

Rules are Subject to Change. All changes to the rules and final instructions shall be posted on the Emerald Coast Open website and social media pages

Entry Fee is $75 per participant through March 31, 2024. On April 1, 2024, the entry fee is $100 per participant. Registration and fees include the ECO 2-day tournament on May 17-18, 2024.


Thursday, February 1 , 2024

Pre-Tournament Begins at first light



Tournament Kickoff Party – 6:00 pm -9:00 pm

Location TBD


Thursday May 16, 2024

Pre-Tournament Ends. Last day to turn in lionfish for the pre-tournament is at the Captain’s Meeting before 7pm

Sunday May 19, 2024

Awards Ceremony/ Prize Raffle

Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Festival

AJ’s on the Harbor –  Destin, FL116 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541


A. Registration will be available on the Emerald Coast Open website ( All participants must read and understand the Pre-Tournament Rules prior to registering.  Payment is due at time of registration. Payment and completed registration shall constitute a representation by each participant that he/she has read and fully understand the tournament rules and that he/she will abide by such rules and decisions of the tournament committee.

B. Non-refundable registration fees are $75 per participant for Early registration through March 31, 2024, and $100 per participant thereafter.

C. Registration includes entry into both the Emerald Coast Open Pre-Tournament and 2-day Lionfish Tournament.

D.  Participants can register at any time during the pre-tournament months. To qualify for prizes and awards, you must be registered and paid prior to turning in lionfish at designated drop-off locations.

E. The ECO Pre-Tournament is an individual competition. Lionfish must be harvested by the person credited for the harvest. No team aggregation of lionfish to one participant is allowed.


A. The Pre-Tournament kickoff party will be on TBD from 6:00pm – 9:00pm at a TBD location.  More information to follow.


A.   Lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles) eligible for entry may only be taken during the tournament months. No previously caught or frozen lionfish will be allowed, however, please keep all lionfish on ice.

B.  Only legal means of capture in areas allowing use of those gear types will be allowed. All existing federal, state, and local laws must be followed.

C.  All lionfish must be in whole condition (no missing heads or tails).

D.  Lionfish harvested during the pre-tournament must be donated to receive credit. Lionfish will be used for sampling, research or for consumption during the Emerald Coast Open. Fish must be preserved on ice.

E.  Protective gloves should be worn when handling lionfish. Participants are encouraged to carry appropriate first aid kits specific for Lionfish stings.



A.   Lionfish must be turned-in to designated drop-off locations. The updated list of designated drop-off locations will be kept on the Emerald Coast Open website at

B.  Lionfish should be brought in properly iced for consumption and in coolers. This means sufficient ice with a layer below the fish and a layer on top to maintain temperature for 24 hours.

C.   Lionfish will be counted and verified by staff at the designated drop-off locations.  If participants are not present during the counting, they forfeit their ability to protest the accuracy of the count sheets.

D.  Staff at the designated drop-off locations will take possession of the lionfish, and forward the count sheets to ECO Tournament staff to be included in the participant’s raffle count.

E.  Participants should verify drop off times, especially when bringing in large amounts of lionfish.

F.  If there is not a drop-off location in registered participants area and registered participants wish to participate in the pre-tournament, please contact Alex Fogg at (443) 995-6416 to arrange drop off.



A. Registered participants may compete in the ECO Pre-Tournament for raffle entries.  For each lionfish donated during the pre-tournament, you will receive 2 raffle entries for the prize drawings during the Emerald Coast Open prize giveaway.  There will also be bonus days, special drawings and prizes specific to pre-tournament participants. More information will be announced on ECO’s Facebook page.

B. Raffle entries will be drawn electronically at the ECO Lionfish Tournament awards ceremony on 05/19/2024 at AJ’s on the Harbor in Destin, FL.

C. First three top prizes announced will be awarded to the pre-tournament category only. Participants do not need to be present to win the top three announced prizes. All other raffle drawings require participants to be present to win.


A.   The Lionfish tournament is an honor system tournament with all registrants being responsible for compliance with the rules.

B.  Any violation of these rules resulting in disqualification will result in forfeiture of entry fee, prizes and cash awards, and at the sole discretion of the tournament officials, prohibited from entry in any future tournaments.

C.  If non-compliance with tournament rules are suspected, the tournament committee reserves the right to conduct a polygraph. Without a successful polygraph the individual will forfeit all prizes.

D.  All protests must be presented in writing along with a $500 deposit to the tournament committee no later than 15 minutes after results are posted on the final day of the tournament.

E.  Tournament committee will refer to submitted count sheets for any protests relating to the number of lionfish turned in. 

F.  Poor sportsmanship will be grounds for disqualification from this tournament.



A.  All entrants agree to allow tournament officials and Emerald Coast Open to use participant’s name, awards, and photos for any media and promotional purposes.



Pre-Tournament Drop Off Locations

If you are participating in the pre-tournament and do not see a drop-off location near you, or would like to become a drop-off location, please contact Alex Fogg at (443) 995-6416.


Dewey Destin's

9 Calhoun Ave, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 837-7575

Call Alex Fogg at 443-995-6416  to coordinate fish drop-off.


Dewey Destin's Navarre

8673 Navarre Pkway, Navarre, FL 32566
(850) 710-7070

Call Alex Fogg at 443-995-6416  to coordinate fish drop-off.


Dive Pros Dive Shop

7203 US-98, Pensacola, FL 32506
(850) 456-8845

Drop-off available during business hours. Please call when you are on your way to drop off fish.

Southwind Marina

10121 Sinton Dr, Pensacola, FL 32507
(850) 529-2475

Call Capt. Andy Ross prior to your trip, if possible, to coordinate fish drop-off.

Niuhi Dive Charters

10121 Sinton Dr, Penscola, FL 32507
(850) 529-2475
Niuhi Dive Charters

Call Captain Andy Ross at 850-529-2475 prior to your trip, if possible, to coordinate fish drop-off.

Gulf Breeze

Shark Quest Dive Shop

5614 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563
(850) 516-6800

Call the shop to coordinate fish drop-off before you show up. 



Diver's Direct

99621 Overseas Hwy. Key Largo Florida 33037

Call (305) 451-0118

Text Randy Gross at 310-702-7276  prior to your trip, if possible, to coordinate fish drop-off.