Along with all of the amazing new dive gear at the latest 2019 Dive Equipment and Marketing Association convention in Orlando, FL from November 4-7 there were several non profit lionfish booths in attendance. Over a decade into arguably the greatest invasive fish catastrophe in the world and certainly the Atlantic ocean, sometimes it feels as though the sense of urgency in combating the problem has begun to wane. Fortunately there are many groups that have sprung up to help combat the lionfish problem and continue to promote awareness of the issue. Lionfish University, Coast Watch Alliance, and the Texas Lionfish Control Unit all coordinated to have booths together to spread information and give a location for the many dedicated lionfish hunters in the industry to gather and discuss our favorite fish to hunt.
It’s truly amazing how this invasive pest of a fish has brought such a diverse crowd of divers together, united in our shared passion of hunting and protecting the reef from this voracious predator. As I wrote before, I have learned to love lionfish & lionfish hunting and a big part of that is the incredible people involved in the endeavor. At the latest DEMA show the exhibitors were able to talk about the latest efforts: tournaments, traps, lionfish dip, and lionfish jewelry being made from spines of the captured fish. We all know man has an incredible ability to change the environment around us, and the dedicated professionals I met at the DEMA ’19 show reminded me of just how much of an effect we have been able to have so far. Much of the new equipment that was seen at the show such as advanced ROV’s (Remote Operated Vehicles) and amazingly high-tec diver propulsion devices should serve to make us even more effective hunters. Of course, a big part of every DEMA show are the large number of dive destinations promoting their location and these days almost all of the western Atlantic and Caribbean dive operators are happy to talk and allow lionfish hunting in their areas.
If you are a dive professional and missed the DEMA show this year there will be another in Las Vegas next November and then one in Orlando again November 2021. While not open to the public, if you are a divemaster, Instructor or working professionally in the dive industry this is the premier event for finding the latest dive gear, travel destinations, and the latest industry news about projects such as controlling the lionfish, future shipwrecks, and so much more.