What Will it Take to Reverse the Lionfish Invasion? Scientists Offer Preliminary Calculation
A study released in June 2010 suggests that approximately 27% of adult lionfish will have to be removed monthly for a year for the population of this invasive species to decrease. This represents a major fishing effort which may not be feasible in some areas (such as the expansive communities off the southeast U.S. coast) but which may be possible in areas where lionfish habitat is more circumscribed (around some Caribbean islands). Caribbean governments such as Turks and Caicos have already begun to encourage widespread fishing for lionfish by offering year-long tournaments with prizes for the most lionfish caught.
This study, the fruit of a collaboration between scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and Southeast Fisheries Science Center as well as North Carolina State University, offers a preliminary target for such efforts.
The lionfish invasion provides a stark example of the ongoing need for prevention, early detection, and rapid response to marine invaders. This study demonstrates that extraordinary resources may be required to reduce or eradicate invasive fish once established in marine systems.