[Coral-List] Control of lionfish

Lad Akins Lad at reef.org
Wed May 6 15:05:51 EDT 2009

HI John, Paul, Brice and all.


Glad this issue is catching your eye.  It has been on the radar for some
time now and much is being done in both control and documentation of the
impacts relative to this invasion.


It's been a while since we've updated on the coral list, so I maybe this is
a good time to do so.


Relative to documentation of the impacts, James Morris, Paula Whitfield,
Roldan Munoz and others at NOAA's Beaufort lab as well as others working in
the South Atlantic Bight have been taking a lead role in addressing status
and impacts of this invasion along the US east coast.  Work on reproduction,
age/growth, predation (on and by lionfish), population dynamics, genetics,
parasitology, and more have been either recently published or are in final


Stephanie Green and Isabelle Côté at Simon Fraser University, James Morris
at NOAA, Mark Albins and Mark Hixon at Oregon State, Nicola Smith at
University of British Columbia and others have been looking at similar
issues and impacts relative to coral reef systems in the Bahamas and other
invaded areas of the Caribbean.


REEF has been working in close coordination with those along the US Coast
and in the wider Caribbean to facilitate research but also to implement
outreach/awareness, early detection/rapid response and control programs.
Over the last 6 months we have worked with the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos,
Cayman Islands and the Netherlands Antilles to conduct workshops on
outreach/awareness, detection and response, medical issues, collection and
handling techniques and monitoring and assessment protocols. We were able to
train and license over 160 dive professionals in Cayman alone to respond to
sightings and remove fish via early detection/rapid response protocols.
Upcoming projects and workshops are planned for Belize
(http://www.reef.org/programs/exotic/lionfish/trips) , the Florida Keys,
Bahamas and USVI/PR this summer. (visit www.reef.org/lionfish for updates)


The USGS has been the focal point for databasing lionfish sightings and has
dedicated significant resources to hosting the lionfish sightings database
on their NAS website
(http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/fish/lionfishdistribution.asp).  They have
also developed mapping tools and maintain an early warning system to alert
users (anyone can sign up) of lionfish or other non-native species sightings
in new areas.


The recent GCFI (Guadaloupe), ICAIS (Montreal) and the upcoming Marine
Bioinvasions (Portland) conferences all have lionfish special sessions where
the latest work has been/is being presented. There is a very good summary of
what is currently known about lionfish including discussion on control and
management from the recent GCFI symposium


We (NOAA/REEF) now have funding to conduct a series of regional workshops
this summer and fall and many research and control programs are set to start
up early this summer. 


I hope this eases some of the concern relative to the control and impacts
issue.  If you have any questions or would like more info, feel free to
contacts us.  Let's all work together to ensure that research and control
will work hand in hand to come up with successful solutions to this issue.


All the best,







Lad Akins

Director of Special Projects

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)

98300 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL, 33037

(305) 852-0030

(305) 942-7333 cell

Lad at REEF.org




-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of John Ogden
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 3:20 PM
To: Brice Semmens
Cc: Coral List
Subject: [Coral-List] Control of lionfish




Good first point and more or less what I meant to say.  Let's 

distinguish control and eradication.  Control (living with) lionfish 

requires knowledge that could be side-tracked by expensive, extensive, 

well-meaning but ultimately futile eradication measures (and there are 

many people thinking this way).  I suggest that the time is now to use 

the event of invasion not just to document but to look at what is 

happening on Caribbean reefs as this invader is established.  Surely 

this will help gather knowledge knowledge useful to control.  In my 

opinion we will be living with lionfish from here on out.




Brice Semmens wrote:

> John,


> No one doubts mosquitoes are here to stay, yet most folk appreciate 

> control efforts (particularly in your neck of the woods!) Efforts 

> aimed at culling lionfish are principally intended to limit impacts to 

> already stressed reef communities. Put another way, the efforts are 

> only futile if the goal is erradication. I don't believe anyone 

> involved in these (well coordinated) efforts has eradication as a goal 

> at this point. It's also worth noting that any rigorous efforts aimed 

> at identifying lionfish impacts on a whole-reef scale should probably 

> attempt some version of BACI... note the 'control' part of BACI.


> So, the big question -- are you suggesting that folks forgo control 

> efforts in order to focus exclusively on documenting the undoubtedly 

> horrific effects of this invasion? To me that's like studying the 

> wiring diagram of a time bomb that's about to go off --  I'd rather 

> spend my time figuring out how to avoid as much of the blast as possible.


> My two cents.

> Brice Semmens






> John Ogden wrote:

>> Thinking back to the Diadema mass mortality of 1983-84 and the 

>> opportunities that were missed because of poor communications across the 

>> region, now would be a very good time to use our superb and ubiquitous 

>> communications to set up a coordinated observation network to see what 

>> is the impact of lionfish on populations of small reef fishes.  It 

>> appears that this idea could be trumped by well-meaning but ultimately 

>> futile attempts to remove them.  Who doubts that they are here to stay?  

>> It would be best we anticipate the future of Caribbean reefs with 

>> lionfish and try to get some data to help get our minds around this.


>> Cheers all.


>>> From: Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Network

>>> [mailto:GCFINET at LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU] On Behalf Of Dave Anderson

>>> Sent: Sunday, May 03, 2009 9:24 PM


>>> Subject: [GCFINET] Cayman Islands Lionfish Update




>>> This message was originally submitted by Bradley Johnson

>>> [mailto:Bradley.Johnson at gov.ky]  to GCFINet. 


>>> Hi all,




>>> As of 30th April 2009 we have caught 90 lionfish! This includes the 2

>>> in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman in 2008 and 3 live specimens. They have

>>> been caught in water ranging from 3' down to 110', on all sides of the

>>> islands, and in all habitats.




>>> By island we have: 


>>> Grand Cayman - 44;


>>> Cayman Brac - 8;


>>> Little Cayman - 38. 




>>> Cayman Brac was hit by Hurricane Paloma in November and sustained severe

>>> damage to the Island, including their dive operations. The sightings
have so

>>> far been primarily from divers, so with practically no diving in the
Brac we

>>> are getting fewer reports of lionfish from there. We assume this will

>>> increase once the dive operations reopen.




>>> We have licensed approximately 163 divers to remove lionfish for us

>>> 130 in Grand, 3 in the Brac, and 30 in LC. We will increase the number

>>> licensed divers in the Brac once they get more dive staff back.






>>> Bradley C. Johnson 

>>> Research Officer

>>> Department of Environment

>>> Cayman Islands Government 

>>> PO Box 486 

>>> Grand Cayman  KY1-1106 


>>> 345-949-8469 Office

>>> 345-244-4168 Direct

>>> 345-949-4020 Fax 


>>> Website www.doe.ky 




>>> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




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John C. Ogden, Director

Florida Institute of Oceanography

Professor of Integrative Biology

University of South Florida

830 First Street South

St. Petersburg, FL 33701 USA

Tel. 727-553-1100

Fax  727-553-1109





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