When is the 2023 Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival?

Conservation Partners - REEF Take a Bite

Register Your Team Today!

2023 Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival

REEF’s 14th annual Florida Keys Lionfish event will include two full days of lionfish fishing, followed by a family-friendly festival at picturesque Postcard Inn Resort & Marina. The festival is open to the public and will include lionfish scoring, fillet and dissection demonstrations, lionfish tastings, lionfish games and crafts, raffle prizes, plus booths from environmentally-minded vendors. Chefs will be providing lionfish cooking demonstrations and special dishes and drink special will be available.

CONSERVATION FESTIVAL – Sunday, September 10, 2023 11AM – 4PM, Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina

 Limited festival vendor space is available for nonprofits, government organizations, and artisanal vendors.

Lionfish Festival Vendor Application

Event Schedule

Thursday, Sept. 7: Captain’s Meeting* for registered derby teams – 6:30-7:30PM (6:15 PM final check in), REEF Campus Key Largo & virtual (link sent out to registrants); gear rental begins

Friday, Sept. 8: Fishing sunrise to sundown

Saturday, Sept. 9: Fishing sunrise to sundown

Sunday, Sept. 10: No fishing; lionfish festival and awards ceremony at Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina; Final Team Weigh-in 12PM; Awards Ceremony at 3PM;

*The Captain’s Meeting is mandatory for the team captains, and all team members are encouraged to attend. The team captain must be one of the four participants in the derby but does not need to be the captain of the boat. Safe collecting and handling techniques and derby rules will be reviewed. The Captain’s meeting will be offered in-person and virtually. 

IMPORTANT: Teams wishing to fish in the areas that fall under the FKNMS, FWC, and DEP permit must schedule a time to come to the REEF Campus to pick up packet materials, permits, and flags during the week of September 5 or pick up at the Captain’s Meeting. 

How much does it cost?

Early Bird Registration Discounts Available
$75 per team through August 11, 2023

$100 per team on or before September 8, 2023 (6:30PM)

Minimum 2 people per team, maximum 4 people

How to Participate 

Step 1: Gather your team. Florida Keys Lionfish Derby teams can be made of 2-4 divers. Decide on what level you will participate (Apex Predators or Reef Defender).

Step 2: Register your team and pay the Registration Fee.

Register and Pay

Step 3: All members of your team need to complete the waiver.

Online Waivers

Step 4: Make sure everyone on your team understands the rules of the Derby.

Derby Rules


Prizes will be awarded for MOST lionfish, SMALLEST and LARGEST lionfish and a Golden Fish raffle award for all participating teams.

During registration, teams must choose to compete in one of two divisions for the MOST Lionfish Prize.

Apex Predators Division (More Competitive Division; Greater Prize Money)  
Reef Defenders Division (More Casual Division; Lower Prize Money)

All teams will compete together for LARGEST and SMALLEST lionfish categories. 

Additional Details

Teams that will be fishing in the areas that fall under the FKNMS and FWC permit must schedule a time to come to REEF campus to pick up packet material, permits and flags during the week of September 4, 2022.

Teams will be able to take at least 80% of their catch after it is measured (REEF will keep some lionfish to use towards education and outreach activities). 

Teams can also submit their catch through FWC’s Commercial Lionfish Harvest Program.

Teams must attend the awards ceremony at Postcard Inn Resort and Marina to win prizes.   

All lionfish should be well packed on ice and teams must provide enough ice for lionfish, particularly those that will be held overnight.

Don’t have a boat? Local Charters are available. Call shops for rates or contact  lionfish@REEF.org for more details.  

COVID-19 precautions
REEF will be following all CDC guidelines and we encourage participants who are eligible to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Participants are also encouraged to wear masks when in large crowds, maintain social distancing, and frequently wash hands. All Derby events will be held outdoors or be offered virtually. REEF will be increasing sanitization, providing numerous hand sanitizing stations, and following best practices for sage food handling. We are continuously monitoring the status of COVID-19 within the region and the safety of our REEF Family is our priority.

Leave a Reply

Shopping cart


No products in the cart.

Continue Shopping