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FWC Unveils Tracking App for Invasive Florida Lionfish

May 29, 2014 12:42 PM EDT

Want to stop invasive lionfish from harming local wildlife? Now there's an app for that.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) unveiled its new "Report Florida Lionfish" smartphone app that may be the key to eliminating lionfish from the Florida coasts, according to a WFSU news release.

The FWC took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to announce its unconventional approach to combating the invasive species. Public users can submit lionfish data such as population size, location and how the fish are being harvested.

"Hopefully by having this app, by being able to collect this additional information, we'll be able to discover new tools and new ways to control the lionfish population," FWC spokeswoman Amanda Nalley said.

Lionfish started appearing in increasing numbers off the Atlantic coast since the mid-2000s, according to FWC. Due to the fact that they have no native predators, multiply quickly and eat Florida's native fish, the FWC is determined to control their growing population to prevent further damage to the state's reefs and wildlife.

Any information uploaded to the app will be available to the public and shared with other groups and agencies interested in learning more, CBS Miami reported.

The free application also includes educational information on lionfish and safe handling guidelines, as well as an easy-to-use data-reporting form so divers and anglers can share information about their sighting or harvest with the FWC, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

App users can even take and share a photo of their catch, which may be used in future publications or social media efforts.

What's more, the first 250 people who successfully complete the Report Florida Lionfish app reporting form will receive a free "Lionfish Control Team" T-shirt.

This novelty app isn't even FWC's first. The conservation group recently released a similar app for reporting sightings of the endangered gopher tortoise.

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