[Coral-List] Lion fish question

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 22 16:03:03 EDT 2013

   I have concernedly read several of the papers that have been published on
   the subject and donât disagree with conclusions indicating that lionfish are
   affecting the structure and function of invaded marine ecosystems and that
   predation  by  lionfish is having negative effects on native reef fish
   communities. I also find it logical to assume that lionfish mortality is
   highest in the egg, larval and juvenile stages as it is with most other
   species. Therefore, Bruceâs comments that attention needs to be focused on
   all aspects of the life cycle when it comes to population control is well
   received. Whether predation of adult lionfish could contribute further to
   their control if healthy populations of larger fish existed has yet to be
   determined and is likely far more difficult to ascertain. But I would think
   that  populations  of  both  planktivores and top level predators look
   depauperate when contrasting Indo-Pacific reefs to areas of the Western
   Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.
   I did not mean to suggest that divers are misguided in their attempts to
   control lionfish populations. These efforts can be helpful to some extent if
   carried out responsibly. At the same time I would hasten to suggest that
   significant  damage  to  coral  reefs can occur if lionfish hunting is
   over-hyped. Iâve seen too many over-zealous divers damage reefs in pursuit
   of  their prey during the highly regulated lobster season. Imagine the
   carnage  if  no  oversight  or  limitations existed. As to the overall
   effectiveness of current strategies to minimize impact and allow for the
   recovery of native reef fish populations, that remains to be seen, but there
   is reason for hesitancy. For one thing, lionfish are known to inhabit zones
   well beyond the depth limits of the sport diving community.
   Where we agree is on the need to focus on the assumption that we should be
   advocating a more comprehensive approach. I certainly support all efforts by
   the diving industry to address the various threats to marine ecosystems and
   promote conservation, but I still find it troubling that this particular
   threat  is so enthusiastically embraced while other, perhaps even more
   prominent issues are met with indifference. {Green et al} may have made an
   effective argument for lionfish controls, but think of the multitude of
   papers {along with the ICRS consensus statement} drawing attention to the
   threats that climate change holds for coral reefs that this same industry
   conspicuously chooses to ignore.

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