If 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.