Here in SVG there are two types of lionfish, which have invaded the West Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. The lionfish can range from 5 to 45 cm in length, weighing from 0.025 to 1.3 kg.
They are must famous for being very beautiful and being very venomous. They have venomous spines, which is the reason that it doesn’t have so many predators.
Lionfish are native in southern Japan and southern Korea to the east coast of Australia, Indonesia, Micronesia, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific Ocean. But now these to types of lionfish is also found along the United States East Coast from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to Florida, and off Bermuda, the Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean. There are many theories about how the lionfish come to the other side of the world, but the most possible one is when Hurricane Andrew destroyed an aquarium in southern Florida in 1992.
So why is it such a big deal that lionfish has spread to the other side of the world? It is because it ruins the marine ecosystems. Lionfish eats the smaller fish, which eats plankton, more plankton will now survive and that will make it harder for the sunlight to get through. This will in the end kill the coral reefs, because they can’t get the sunlight they need.
Lionfish do not have many predators, and the predators who actually can eat the lionfish, does not know, because they have never seen them before. In addiction a female lionfish can produce 15.000 eggs frequently, which she sends to the surface of the sea in clusters, which then go with the current. The lionfish can live up to 15 years, and it only takes months before they can reproduce. The population of lionfish is increasing rapidly in the invaded areas, resulting in a population boom of up to 700% from 2004 to 2008. So to sum up why they spread so fast is because no one eats them, they produce a lot of eggs, and that the current always will make the eggs float to other not infected areas.
Here at Richmond Vale Academy we have started to catch lionfish to protect the marine life. This is only for the students who has a PADI Scuba Diver certificate, so we are about 10 at the school that goes out. It is possible to get a certificate at the school, which about 7 out of the 10 have done.
We go out every Sunday in two groups and catch as many as possible. Big and small, we kill them all.
We go out at 4 areas, where we change area every week, so that we help the marine life over a big area. In the future we would like to do monitoring, to see if there actually are coming less Lionfish in the areas we catch them in, or if there is no change.
One of the benefits of the Lionfish is that you can eat it, and that it is actually seen as a delicacy. So we cook it and eat it. In the future this could maybe become a tourism attraction, where tourist can come to the school and catch there on dinner, and save the marine life at the same time.
Written by Bjorn / The Climate Compliance Conference November 2014