Lionfish Bash helps control invasive species in South Florida

Annual event raises $400,000 in past 3 1/2 years

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Lionfish are an invasive species that have been flourishing in South Florida waters and in the Caribbean.

Now one group is trying to catch these fish to control the problem, while raising money for another cause.

"I had a spinal injury about 3 1/2 years ago, while I was playing rugby in college," said Woody Beckham. "And I went in to tackle someone, and I got a knee to the neck and I ended up paralyzed."

Beckham's friend, David Mills found a way to raise money for those in similar situations, and thus The Woody Foundation's Lionfish Bash was born.

"We go out and we kill invasive lionfish for sport, and have a big fundraiser for our foundation," said Beckham.

The annual event takes place in Bimini and has raised more than $400,000 in three years. Divers have speared more than 1,000 lionfish to combat the issue in South Florida.

Meanwhile, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has new regulations in place.

"One of the rules that we decided to adopt is that you no longer need a fishing license if you're going to be specifically targeting lionfish," said Officer Jorge Pine of the FWC. "You're allowed to spear them, but you can only use the equipment that is designed for spearing lionfish."