The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will be honoring the first place winners from the fourth annual Lionfish Challenge.

The fourth annual Lionfish Challenge is in the books and saw the removal of more than 23,000 of the invasive species from local waters.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will be honoring the first place winners in each category at its December meeting in Panama City Beach. Some of the highlights of this year's event include:

Recreational Category

First place Lionfish King: Ken Ayers, Bay County, 1,194 removed.

Second place: John McCain, Gilchrist County, 983 removed.

Third place: Shea Lowe, Escambia County, 942 removed.

Commercial Category

First place Commercial Champion: Joshua Livingston, Okaloosa County, 3,192.8 lbs. removed.

Second place: Ron Surrency, Duval County, 1,720 lbs. removed.

Third place: Alex Fogg, Okaloosa County, 1,210.5 lbs. removed.

Largest Lionfish

First place: Ron Surrency, Duval County, 433 mm.

Second place: Joshua Livingston, Okaloosa County, 420 mm.

Third place: Koa Viravong, Pinellas County, 414 mm.

Smallest Lionfish

First place: Nikkie Cox, Franklin County, 37 mm.

Second place: Ken Ayers, Bay County, 45 mm.

Third place: Alex Fogg, Okaloosa County, 52 mm.

Final Stats

23,451 lionfish removed.

349 people registered.

148 people submitted lionfish (134 recreational, 14 commercial).

The Lionfish Challenge ran from May 18-Sept. 2.

The Lionfish Challenge rewards harvesters with prizes for their lionfish removals.

This year, participants who submitted the largest and smallest lionfish were eligible to receive up to $3,000 in cash prizes thanks to support from sponsors American Sportfishing Association, Yamaha Motor Company, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County and National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Thanks to these and the Lionfish Challenge Raffle sponsors including Florida Underwater Sports, Toothless Life, Lionator Pole Spears, Neritic Diving, Stream2Sea, ZooKeeper and Customatic Optics. The Lionfish Challenge could not be possible without your help.

Learn more at FWCReefRangers.com.

This story has been written and syndicated across GateHouse Media Group's 22 Florida markets.