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

August Heim august.heim at gmail.com
Wed Feb 20 13:12:39 EST 2013

The native species have been in decline for quite some time prior to Lionfish appearing on our coastal reefs.  And not due to Lionfish but those other evils.

On the positive, at least Lionfish grow rather quickly, unlike the native groupers and can provide a base prey animal for eels and sharks etc. which latter left our reefs 25 years ago.  Also, most likely the venom will retreat in potency due to water differences and diet or preditors will adapt to it making then stronger.  And since these fish are genetically self-similar it is possible they will die out on their own.  Who knows.

On the clubbing seals comment, I can agree that science chooses which mistakes of man are warranted and which are not.  We are killing Pythons in Florida for much the same reason.  But, there were Pythons in Florida 10k years ago. So maybe we just brought them back… only different ones.   We brought Mongooses to the UVI's two hundred years ago purposefully based on science.   

Only time will tell whether or not Lionfish being in the Eastern Atlantic is good or bad overall and there is little to nothing we can do about.  We can't find all of them.  

On Feb 20, 2013, at 12:02 AM, Holden Harris wrote:

> 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.
> Respectfully,
> 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
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