As part of the C2 Action the RELIONMED’s Project Management Team (PMT) is responsible for organising, implementing and supervising 8 lionfish removal competitions in total. These derbies will take place on a seasonal basis for 2 consecutive years and will focus on priority areas, such as the Marine Protected Areas of Nissia and Cavo Greco. All the derbies will include awards for the highest-ranking participants. Prize categories include, the most fish, the heaviest fish and the smallest. These events will demonstrate the ability of Removal Action Teams (RATs) to reduce lionfish population densities in priority areas and help scientists to understand the colonization rate and the effectiveness of removals. In other words, these removal events are not just for fun, but also for scientists to gather various publishable data and gain a better understanding on how to effectively manage this threat that the lionfish imposes to our marine ecosystems.
All participants must follow the rules set by the RELIONMED’s PMT and must sign a disclaimer form and confirm their good physical condition. It is preferable that all divers taking part in the competition be insured (example DAN insurance). Each team can be composed by 2-3 divers. Diving will be allowed to a depth that is within the capabilities of the least qualified team member, provided that they have all the required certifications. Strict diving and safety rules will always be adopted. Mixed gas diving is permitted provided that the divers are properly certified. There will be a first aid and diver instructor who will be on safety boats ready to respond to any emergency. There will be an ambulance near the derby area, in addition heat packs will be given to all the athletes. At every event each team will be equipped with lionfish removal gear, which includes a pair of needle proof gloves, a wooden sling with trident and a labelled lionfish container, all the participants are required to return the equipment back before the end of the event.