REEF's 2018 Lionfish Derby Series Presented by Whole Foods Market ®

Ashley Yarbrough

Divers and snorkelers in Florida will once again sharpen their spears and hone their lionfish hunting skills to compete in the annual REEF Lionfish Derby Series presented by Whole Foods Market. This summer marks 10 years of lionfish derbies, and will feature an exclusive partnership between REEF and Whole Foods Market for six derby events around the state.

Whole Foods Market introduced lionfish to all Florida stores in April 2016, offering the white flaky fish similar to grouper or snapper, which is perfect for those who want a delicious, nutritious and eco-conscious choice. Working in partnership with the local community, Whole Foods Market hopes to make a difference in the lionfish population, protecting our coastal fisheries and reefs for generations to come. We aim to help maintain healthy fish populations, restore ecosystems and build a more sustainable seafood supply for everyone.

“The support of Whole Foods Market in addressing the lionfish problem is a great example of different groups working together to help the planet.” says Lad Akins, REEF’s Director of Special Projects. “We look forward to engaging even more divers and snorkelers in the events this year and removing more lionfish from our coastal waters.”  The derby series this year starts in June and includes events in Key Largo, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and Sarasota. 

Invasive lionfish are voracious predators from the Indo-Pacific that threaten Florida’s marine ecosystems by devouring more than 170 species of our native fish and invertebrates. Defended from predators by 18 venomous spines, lionfish rule the reefs and reproduce as often as every four days, year round. Though lionfish may seem unstoppable, divers and snorkelers can significantly reduce local populations and allow native fish populations to recover. Lionfish derbies serve to educate the public, provide samples for researchers, and encourage market development, on top of removing thousands of ecologically devastating lionfish. For more information, visit


About REEF

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting, and enabling divers and marine enthusiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists. REEF membership is free and totals more than 60,000 individuals worldwide, who protect marine life through education, service, and research.

About Whole Foods Market® 

For 39 years, Whole Foods Market has been the world’s leading natural and organic foods retailer. As the first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market has over 470 stores in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. Whole Foods Market was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health magazine and has been ranked one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America by FORTUNE magazine for 20 consecutive years. To learn more about Whole Foods Market, please visit

For further comments or interviews:

REEF Environmental Education Foundation Lad Akins, Director of Special Projects,  305-852-0030

Whole Foods Market Heather McCready, Public Relations Coordinator    857-452-6986

Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub