Lionfish threat to St. John grows

LionfshIf you can't beat 'em, eat 'em.

That seriously, is the government's strategy to reduce the damage the spectacular-looking fish can cause.  And the discovery of lion-fish in waters off St. John is troubling.

Divers from the National Center for Coastal Ocean Science and the National Park Service spotted a six-inch long lionfish earlier this summer, while collecting data about the health of corals, fish and invertebrates.  They captured and killed it.

"Lionfish pose a huge threat to the coral reef ecosystems of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The native fish populations are essentially defenseless in the face of this threat. And once established, lionfish are very difficult to control," noted Rafe Boulon, Chief of Resource Management for the Virgin Islands National Park and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.

The first lionfish was captured off St. John in late March.  Since then, baby lionfish have been seen in Lameshure Bay.

"The good news is that the invasive fish happens to be delicious," according to the Environmental News Network (EEN).  So, NOAA is studying lionfish control strategies and has launched an "Eat Lionfish" campaign.  The agency works with chefs, fishermen, and wholesalers to promote the development of a market for these fish.

NOAA scientists have determined that a major fishing effort is required to reduce their numbers and mitigate their impact on reef ecosystems.  Approximately 27 percent of mature lionfish will have to be removed
monthly for one year to reduce its population growth rate to zero, added the EEN.

6 thoughts on “Lionfish threat to St. John grows”

  1. Lionfish have been in the Caribbean for a while due to human activity. They are not native to this area, but were brought to Florida for aquariums. Unfortunately, about 6 or 7 found there way to the open sea from improper handling and storage and have since multiplied. If you ever see one, don’t touch it or you’ll feel some major pain.

  2. Yep. very painful. They are common to the waters of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. We saw them constantly, I was a dive pro in Vietnam & Indonesia. Interesting that those areas had substantial fish populations not affected by them. The difference is a natural habitat. Another one to watch for is Crown of Thorns starfish.

  3. I sure hope the Crown of Thorns starfish NEVER makes it to the Caribbean. I’ve seen those things devour beautiful coral in a matter of hours. They are ravenous little monsters! Not only are they a threat to coral, but they will send you to the hospital if you happen to step on one in shallow water. They’re pretty to look at, but that’s all.

  4. In Little Cayman, they are training Nassau grouper to eat lionfish, since the Pacific grouper is the natural predator in the lionfish’s normal habitat.

  5. I’m not in favor of killing any of God’s creatures, except maybe snakes and sharks. The lion fish is a creature of beauty. Hopefully, nature find a way of taking care of it. Perhaps, a better option would be to catch them and either sell them or send them back to their native waters.

  6. I agree Kristine, but unfortunately God never intended for any creature to be dangerous. I blame Adam and Eve for messing everything up for the rest of us and the animals. Man o’war is another creature I hate. Got stung by one and will never forget it. I’m always happy when I see a Hawksbill turtle eating a jelly fish. I keep my distance from all jelly fish, even the less dangerous kind.

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