Saving Our Planet One Lionfish At A Time


How can you help our planet? EAT A LIONFISH!

I interviewed Alex Fogg, THE FISH GUY, who I first met at the DEMA Dive Conference when he was a speaker about LIONFISH, an invasive species in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Alex is a marine biologist who is part of the team at Destin-Fort Walton Beach. In fact, he is one of four marine biologists on the tourism team unlike any other tourism team I am aware of. Many people talk about over-tourism and over-fishing but what do they do about it? On the Emerald Coast, they have hired top professionals like Alex to focus on protecting their reefs for fishing and scuba diving both of which I did on my first trip here May 15-18, 2023 ahead of the Emerald Coast Open.

They call Destin–the “Luckiest Fishing Village” due to its prime location, rich marine environment, and warm waters of the Gulf which support a wide variety of fish species, including red snapper, grouper, amberjack, mahi-mahi, and tuna. Several of which I caught on my very first ever fishing trip with the amazing Captain Gaby of Lady Luck Adventures! I highly recommend going out with her to experience the thrill of the catch and see the gorgeous emerald green and turquoise crystal clear waters. We saw dolphins, the pristine white sand beaches and the thriving fishing industry makes it a favored destination for anglers.

However, I would call it the smartest fishing village since they hired Alex and have focused on sustaining and supporting the waters with their many projects including local advice by mom chat, artificial reef deployments several of which I saw installed today, Lionfish restaurant week and the incredible Emerald Coast Open happening this weekend.

How can you help our planet? CATCH A LIONFISH!

The Destin Fort Walton Lionfish Emerald Coast Open (ECO) is the largest lionfish tournament in the world! In 2019, ECO had 189 participants and removed 19,167 lionfish throughout the tournament – 14,119 in 3 days! ECO gave away $48,000 in cash prizes, and over $10,000 in gear prizes. We are looking forward to an exciting 2023 tournament!

Join marine enthusiasts and conservationists this weekend May 19-21. SIGN UP HERE. This tournament is held annually on the pristine shores of the Emerald Coast in Florida and tackles the invasive lionfish species while promoting environmental awareness and sustainable fishing practices.

Lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, have become a major threat to the delicate balance of marine ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. They cause ecological imbalances, habitat destruction, harm to native fish, and negative economic impacts. To combat this invasive species, the Lionfish Emerald Coast Open encourages participants to hunt and catch as many lionfish as possible during the tournament.

The event attracts skilled divers, recreational fishermen, and conservationists from all around the region. Participants compete for prizes based on the number and size of lionfish they catch. In addition to the thrill of the hunt, the tournament also offers educational workshops and seminars on lionfish biology, ecological impact, and proper handling techniques. These sessions help increase public understanding of the lionfish invasion and provide strategies for mitigating its effects.

The Destin Fort Walton Lionfish Emerald Coast Open serves as a platform for promoting sustainable fishing practices. Participants are encouraged to utilize spears and nets to catch lionfish, minimizing harm to other marine species and the surrounding environment. The tournament also facilitates the donation of captured lionfish to local restaurants, where they are prepared and served as a delicacy, raising awareness about lionfish as a viable food source and potentially reducing their numbers through consumer demand. I ate at La Paz last night and we loved our lionfish fajitas!

By combining sport, education, and conservation, the Lionfish Emerald Coast Open serves as a beacon of hope in the fight against invasive species. It fosters a sense of community, encouraging individuals to actively contribute to the protection of marine ecosystems and the preservation of the Emerald Coast’s natural beauty.

Alex sharing his love of the sea with kids at the NY Travel and Adventure Show Jan 29, 2023

Lisa and Alex at the NY Travel and Adventure Show 2023 where Lisa was a speaker!

Lisa and Alex met at the DEMA Dive Show in Nov 2018 and finally went diving together today May 17, 2023 in Destin, Florida! SEA you soon under water scuba diving or on the water soon!

Want to DIVE in DESTIN? I loved the team at ScubaTech and my gear rentals were fantastic!

More about the artificial reefs we dove: CLICK HERE

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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