[Coral-List] Lionfish in the news

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Thu Jan 30 16:18:53 EST 2014

   Dear Jen,
   I certainly don't disagree with your assertions and I support and sometimes
   participate in conscientiously applied efforts to remove lionfish.There can
   be little doubt that the removal of lionfish anywhere on a Caribbean coral
   reef will have an impact on native fish and invertebrate populations. I may
   be wrong, but I would imagine that this dynamic would not be much different
   than the impact of removing even some indigenous predators with similar
   appetites for small reef fishes.
   When I say that the article may raise more questions than it answers, this
   is what I mean.
   You mentioned that reducing lionfish populations is unlikely to result in a
   sudden  recovery  of native fish stocks unless the other pressures are
   addressed. Assuming that the recovery of native fish stocks and the overall
   restoration  of healthy coral reefs is the goal, where should lionfish
   control  rank  as  a  concern? What is it's relative significance when
   considering the other stressors that are in play? Are we taking our eye off
   the ball by diverting too much attention to this particular issue? In fact,
   is there a chance that lionfish are simply affecting native fish stocks,
   biodiversity and ecosystem function in a way similar to that of smaller
   grouper and snapper (meso-predators that feed on similar-sized prey to
   lionfish) before their numbers were severely diminished?
   It may be wishful thinking to think that we might one day restore large
   predatory grouper biomass to the extent that it could serve as a natural
   biocontrol for lionfish. It is more likely that commercial markets promoting
   lionfish consumption is our best option. So be it, keep up the good work. At
   the  same  time let's not lose sight of the fact that over-population,
   over-fishing,  sedimentation, land-based pollutants and the impacts of
   climate change have to be effectively addressed or in truth the lionfish
   issue won't really matter.
   -----Original Message-----
   >From: Jennifer Chapman
   >Sent: Jan 30, 2014 11:30 AM
   >To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Lionfish in the news
   >Dear Steve,
   >I agree with your point that invasive lionfish should not be used as a
   >scapegoat for the decline of native fish stocks, which unarguably happened
   >before the invasion really hit the Caribbean. However, equally unarguably,
   >they exacerbate the effects of over-exploitation: feeding on a variety of
   >juvenile fish and invertebrates, lionfish have been demonstrated to
   >significantly reduce fish recruitment rates (Albins & Hixon, 2008. MEPS
   >233-238), thereby decreasing the recovery potential of depleted
   >populations. Anecdotal evidence from Belizean fishers indicates that
   >lionfish also feed on lobster roe.
   >The silver lining of the lionfish invasion is the opportunity to exploit an
   >alternative target species, diversifying fisheries and providing an
   >opportunity to reduce pressure on native fish stocks. The exciting finding
   >of this paper increases confidence that, if we target our removal efforts
   >appropriately, we can reduce the impact of *this* stressor to coral reefs.
   >However, it is important to keep in mind that this is not a magic bullet.
   > Reducing lionfish populations is unlikely to result in a sudden recovery
   >of native fish stocks unless the other pressures that they are under are
   >also addressed.
   >Best Wishes,
   >*From: *Steve Mussman
   >*Subject: **Re: [Coral-List] Lionfish in the news*
   >*Date: *28 January 2014 20:11:14 GMT
   >*To: *Douglas Fenner
   >*Cc: *coral list
   >*Reply-To: *Steve Mussman
   > Doug,
   > It just seems to me that it has become fashionable to use the lionfish
   > invasion as a scapegoat for the decline of many native fish communities.
   > This takes the focus off of the multiple human stressors and the
   > uncomfortable need to assess and manage human impacts. For example, from
   > everything that I've read it appears that there is a more direct and
   > preexistent correlation between human population density and declines in
   > grouper, snapper and other predatory fish populations. Although there may
   > good reason to target lionfish, it may prove more important to control
   > ourselves if we are to preserve coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.
   > Steve
   >*Jennifer K. Chapman*
   >*Country Coordinator*
   >*Blue Ventures*
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