[Coral-List] Exotic vs. Invasive - Lionfish control

Holden Harris holden.earl.harris at gmail.com
Wed Feb 20 00:02:52 EST 2013

Dear Dr. Szmant,

I agree that lionfish are beautiful fish and their introduction into
the Western Atlantic is unfortunate.  However I think it is important
to realize that the widespread efforts to remove lionfish have come
about not because lionfish are seen as individually evil, but because
research clearly shows their presence to have deleterious impacts on
native fauna and ecosystems.  Lionfish densities in their invaded
range can far exceed the highest densities from their native range,
and their presence significantly reduces native fish recruitment and
biomass, destabilizing natural food webs.   We are also aware that
their impacts are not occurring in a vacuum, and that the direct and
indirect effects of lionfish may combine with other anthropogenic
stressors, such as overfishing and climate change.

It is certainly not the lionfish’s fault that it is a consummate
invasive organism, and the blame for their introduction lays solely on
our species.  Thus it is also our responsibility to fix the problem -
and indeed scientists, volunteers, divers, and fishermen are trying
doing just that.  I believe their work should be thanked and lauded,
and I find it counterproductive to hear their efforts compared to that
of slaughtermen clubbing baby seals.


Holden Harris

> For the record, I find lionfish quite cute, and feel terrible that humans have put them in the position of being an invasive species to be hunted to the death in the Caribbean.  They are such beautiful fish, and just hover there as they are faced with a spear gun placed inches from their cute faces.  It is not the lionfish, but humans, who are the nasty ones in this sad story.

> Dear Mike:
> I will leave it up to those on the list who have the references about the lionfish invasion history handy to send you the historical references you seek  (or better yet, you can go to Coral-List digest and you will find them in there somewhere...or Google lionfish).
> My major reason for replying to your query is to comment that: who are we, the humans who have overfished the Caribbean coral reefs and those all over the world as well, to call out the lionfish for being a major predator of Caribbean reef fishes.  Sounds like the kettle calling the pot black.  I guess we don't want the lionfishes to eat the fishes that we want to catch for ourselves?  Reminds me of the Newfoundland baby seal fishermen (slaughtermen?) justifying the slaughter based on the complaint that the seals ate up all the cod leaving none for the humans!
> I suggest that all those folks who are so upset about the lionfish invasion hurting native Caribbean coral reef fishes do their bit by not fishing or eating any of these reef fishes to help their populations recover!

Holden Earl Harris
T: 649.332.3361 (TCI)
    904.476.0984 (USA)
F: 649.946.3246

The Scool for Field Studies
Center for Marine Resource Studies
Turks and Caicos Islands

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