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October 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Where Lionfish Eradication May Be Working

from the October, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A marine wildlife expert from Bonaire visiting the Cayman Islands on September 4 told local environmentalists that the efforts made on that Dutch island to cull lionfish were beginning to work and populations are falling. Fernando Simal said that concerted and coordinated efforts across the island to enlist the help of visiting and local divers, the introduction of lionfish hunts and changes to local laws allowing the use of spearguns to cull the invasive species have all paid off.

Simal revealed the results of a comparative study with the neighboring island of Curacao, where cull efforts had been slower to start and were significantly less than the commitment made in Bonaire. His findings showed that the lionfish in Bonaire were smaller, weighed less and, above all, had less density. The lionfish population was almost half that of Curacao's, and the size of the fish was 33 percent smaller, a positive because smaller fish eat and compete less with indigenous species. Simal said lionfish is promoted in Bonaire as a tasty dish and now fetches around $14 per kilo which, coupled with the licensing of spearguns for divers hunting the fish, has meant that the cull works.

The Caymans' Department of Environment marine team said that they were also starting to see some positive effects from the culling efforts. Numbers in areas which are dived regularly are falling, but local experts raised concerns that lionfish are still dense 100 meters outside the mooring areas, and that more efforts are needed to keep up the pressure on the lionfish population.

- - Cayman News Service

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