[Coral-List] Mutton snapper eating lionfish in Roatan

Todd Barber reefball at reefball.com
Mon Jan 24 14:28:12 EST 2011

Wild animals (both land and sea) should never be "trained"....history
shows time and time again that inducing these types of behaviors often
leads to unintended consequences.

There's nothing wrong (and it's quite admirable) for Roatan to have a
program to encourage taking of the lionfish for local restaurant
consumption.  Issuing spearguns for control of lionfish can be useful
as long as the spearguns are used only for lion fish to control
populations.  However, feeding wild fish (with any food source much
less on with known poisonous spines) is nothing less than an
uncontrolled and potentially dangerous experiment.

Until science determines some definitive answer, lionfish are here to
stay but it's better to let mother nature adapt in a natural way to
the new species rather than trying to force new behaviors on wild fish
populations. If you want to feed lionfish to other fish species do so
in a captive (perhaps public) aquarium...they you get free fish food
without modifying behaviors of wild fish populations.

Ever stop to think what those fish would be doing if they were not
following spear fisherpeople for a free meal?  I have personally seen
fish that were in a weakened diseased state in an area where fish were
fed regularly then abruptly stopped (it was a tourist designation for
a submarine that moved locations and fish were no longer feed daily).
I have also (personally) witnessed Sharks and Goliath Groupers become
very aggressive to divers when getting accustomed to stealing food
from spearfishing.  There have been reported attacks from sharks
accustomed to stealing food from spearfishing.

I think good intentions are awesome....we all need to try to come up
with solutions to issues facing our reefs....but long term
consequences should always be considered too.


Todd R Barber
Chairman, Reef Ball Foundation
3305 Edwards Court
Greenville, NC 27858
252-353-9094 (Direct)
941-720-7549 (Cell & Goggle Voice)
toddbarber Skype

www,reefball.org (Reef Ball Foundation)
www.artificialreefs.org (Designed Artificial Reefs)
www.reefbeach.com (Reefs for Beach Erosion)
www.eternalreefs.com (Memorial Reefs)
www.reefball.com (Reef Ball Foundation)

On Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 12:13 PM, Roatan Marine Park
<info at roatanmarinepark.net> wrote:
> For over a year, divers around Roatan have been noting mutton snapper, moray
> eels, various species of grouper and trigger fish, and even Caribbean reef
> sharks eating both dead and wounded lionfish. On many dives, mutton snapper
> literally follow divers waiting for a meal. While the spines are toxic and
> people are concerned whether fish consuming the lionfish will later die, it
> appears that this is not the fact. With over 50 divers issued with spears by
> the RMP diving three times a day, literally hundreds of lionfish are being
> killed daily within the Reserve. Island wide this number is even greater. If
> the snappers are dyeing from consuming the lionfish, I feel that the huge
> number of dive boats and the marine park's patrol boats which operate within
> the Reserve would have found at least one dead fish floating at the surface.
> This is not the fact, however, divers have noticed pit marks resembling
> spine wounds around the mouths of several snappers. Divers also recognize
> the same snappers and other species at certain diver sites and have noted
> that they are still all alive and well.
> While it is bad for fish to associate divers with a source of food, is it
> not better to try and encourage these fish to eat the lionfish so in the
> years to come, these species will recognize lionfish as prey rather than as
> a predator? Future generations of fish will begin to eat the lionfish,
> whether they are speared or alive and well. When dead, fish will not
> hesitate to devour the lionfish whole, however if a wounded lionfish is
> taken away from the safety of the reef, they too are swallowed hole or
> ripper to pieces by snappers etc.. Every time we kill a lionfish, not only
> are we saving all the fish that that specimen would eat throughout its
> lifetime, we are also preventing it from reproducing further, and also
> saving one fish which replaces the meal that that one lionfish became.
> The program we are currently working on in Roatan is to introduce lionfish
> to restaurant menus and promote it as a sustainable source of seafood. A
> great alternative to snapper and grouper, it is now financially viable for
> people to make a living out of catching the lionfish here on Roatan. The aim
> is to raise awareness throughout the communities by educating both locals
> and tourists and develop a market for the meat.
> On February 12th and 13th, the RMP will be holding the first official
> Lionfish Derby and cook off. The aim will be to involve people from all
> around the island and massacre as many lionfish as possible. We are hoping
> to break the 2,000 mark as on a single dive, it is possible for a diver to
> spear between 20 and 30 lionfish. For more details about the Roatan Marine
> Park, our lionfish program and the derby, please visit our website at
> www.roatanmarinepark.net
> Nicholas
> Director of patrols and infrastructure
> Roatan Marine Park
> Honduras, Central America
> Nic.bach at roatanmarinepark.net
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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