Public Awareness and Attitudes about Invasive Lionfish in Florida

Nonnative Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) are established in Florida’s marine waters where they are negatively impacting native fish populations, altering reef habitats, and competing with economically important species. Control of lionfish populations is a high priority for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and recent regulatory changes facilitate public participation in lionfish removal. However, public unawareness, misperceptions, and safety concerns remain. FWC is launching a statewide outreach campaign in 2015 with the goals of raising awareness and influencing behaviors toward lionfish.

University of Florida conducted a baseline survey in February 2015, and will conduct a post-campaign survey later in the year to help FWC develop and evaluate lionfish outreach. The surveys provide data on perceptions and experiences of three Florida populations: the general public, recreational saltwater anglers, and recreational SCUBA divers. This research is funded by FWC and supported by PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors). The project has the following objectives:

  • Describe awareness and knowledge of lionfish among Florida anglers, divers, and the general population
  • Assess how involved these groups are in lionfish control efforts
  • Describe public attitudes toward lionfish and other invasive species in Florida
  • Make recommendations to help FWC modify outreach goals and messages
  • Assess the ability of outreach to change public perceptions and behaviors


lionfish removal lionfish lionfish hunting Reef Rangers


Harvey, R.G. and F.J. Mazzotti. 2016. Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors toward Invasive Lionfish: Pre- and Post-Campaign Surveys (PDF). Final Report to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. March 2016. 42 pages.

Harvey, R.G. and F.J. Mazzotti. 2015. Public Awareness and Attitudes toward Invasive Lionfish: Preliminary Results from Baseline Survey (PDF). Interim Report to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. March 2015. 38 pages.


Reef Rangers

FWC's lionfish page