JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- There's a problem in some of our waterways on the First Coast and you might not realize it. They're called Lionfish, and on Saturday dozens of divers tried to get rid of them during the second annual Lionfish tournament.
Eric Johnson is an assistant Professor of Biology at the University of North Florida.
"They're definitely a voracious predator. They eat just about everything," he said.
Lionfish have a taste for the same things humans do, like snapper and black sea bass.
"They're taking food away from our table," said Johnson. "They're everywhere. They're prolific. They're breeding."
Lionfish are a problem in the Southeast. They have spread across the Caribbean and into North Florida.
The First Coast is where 31-year-old Daniel Bluett calls home. He has spent years on these waters. Saturday marked his second stint at the rodeo hunting lionfish. He caught a total of 216, good for second place in the tournament.
"Hopefully we can figure out a solution to get rid of them," he said.
Florida lawmakers recently passed legislation to curb the spread of the invasive species.
"One is encouraging individuals to go out and hunt this fish to make it easier to catch," Johnson said. "Second is to ban the import of this species from the pet trade."
Fisherman are working with UNF biologists. They're marking where they caught the fish and at what depths and then giving samples to the university for biological research.
"We're interested in looking at their diet, how fast they grow," Johnson said.
It's an effort to try to beat the lionfish at their own game.
"Not likely to eradicate, but control," he said. "Maybe we can keep these populations down in certain areas and limit their impact in these regions."
That's good news for fisherman like Bluett.
"Yeah, it does," he said. "Anything helps."