[Coral-List] Lionfish in the news

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Fri Jan 31 07:10:03 EST 2014

     Dear Lad,

     No apologies needed for prolonging the lionfish thread. After all, it is
     more than a peripheral issue and can lead to broadening insights.

     To clear the air, no one should be accusing anybody of being deceitful or
     under the influence of Cool-aid or any other illusory intoxicant.

     As for positive commentary, let me try this: Good job addressing lionfish
     control. If delicately applied I have little doubt that it will prove to
     be a

     helpful resource management tool. I am also happy to point out that even
     if we were in agreement that it was entirely appropriate to reject Mumby's

     proposition, we would be amiss to ignore the warnings of another recent
     peer-reviewed  study  (Cote  IM,  Darling  ES,  2010).  In  it, the
     authors conclude that

     "Climate change is likely to be the dominant driver of ecological change
     in the 21st century and removing local stressors may not be enough to

     biological diversity. We believe there is hope for the survival of natural
     ecosystems in a changing climate. However, the emphasis of the global

     agenda needs to shift substantially from dealing with tractable, local
     stressors to tackling the more fundamental problem of curbing atmospheric
     CO2 emissions."

     That's something to think about and increasingly difficult to approach
     with a combination of realism and positivity.

     Sincere regards,


     -----Original Message-----
     From: Lad Akins
     Sent: Jan 30, 2014 6:47 PM
     To: coral list
     Cc: "Szmant, Alina" , 'Steve Mussman'
     Subject: Lionfish redeaux
     HI Steve and Alina (and listers),
     I apologize in advance for taking up email space with the continued
     on lionfish but I felt a reply to recent emails was warranted.
     Steve, I am glad you are engaged in this issue and Alina, you know I have
     much respect for you and your work, but...come on.
     No one is using lionfish as a scapegoat and this is not about drinking the
     Cool-aid. Lionfish are a real and present threat and the evidence is
     pointing to severe impacts in heavily invaded areas (Green et al 2012).
     work that is coming to light is documenting, through the peer-review
     process, that this is an issue we should be addressing. No one has said
     that lionfish have caused, or are the current sole cause, of declines in
     snapper/grouper populations. But looking forward, we need to be acutely
     aware of this potential. Juvenile grouper and snapper are being found in
     lionfish stomachs, and unlike fishermen, they are out there 24/7 and in
     habitat types.
     As far as being deceitful, none of us have ever said that grouper/snapper
     would rebound if all lionfish were removed. The current paper, does,
     however, look at lionfish prey in general and how they recover when
     numbers are reduced below a threshold. This is significant in that it
     documents that a threshold can achieve positive results without 100%
     removal. Yes, this was done on a small scale, which is how most studies
     undertaken. But these small patch reefs are important habitats (oasis, if
     you will) and results are applicable across a broader scale. We are
     conducting research now on how effective these target thresholds and
     removals are across continuous (not patch) habitats.
     Regarding alternative hypotheses put forward by Mumby, please read the
     recent paper by Hackerott et all
     and the PeerJ PrePrints (https://peerj.com/preprints/139/) discussing the
     two  papers. And think about it...why have lionfish put energy into
     long, obtrusive, venomous spines? Because they work. It is not likely that
     control will come from predation on well-defended venomous lionfish (maybe
     on larval stages, but even these are comparatively well protected. And the
     published data show this lack of predator effect. We also have much
     unpublished data that show grouper densities far greater than those shown
     either the Mumby paper or in the Hackerott paper... and the lionfish
     densities are right up there as well. Protection of large grouper and
     snapper  through  marine  reserves  and effective fishing rules and
     is important, but it is not going to stop the lionfish invasion or its
     impacts  and those grouper/snapper populations are at risk from the
     Finally, none of us are ignoring the other actors affecting the health of
     our oceans. We are, however, addressing a new threat that may be quite
     severe. If you think for one minute that everyone should focus solely on
     climate change or overpopulation, (or whatever your personal favorite is),
     then you are the ones drinking the cool-aid. It takes all of us working on
     our own parts of the issue(s) to move conservation forward.
     Rather than being devise in your comments to the world, I would prefer a
     of positive commentary. How about "Nice work on addressing lionfish
     on patch reefs. Let's hope this translates to larger scales and provides
     direction for resource managers to help protect areas of importance." Then
     feel free to add in your own. ~wouldn't it be nice if we could address
     climate change, population growth, human behavior, etc.
     If you feel like talking more about this, feel free to call.
     All the best,
     Lad Akins
     Director of Special Projects
     P O Box 370246
     98300 Overseas Hwy
     Key Largo FL 33037
     (305) 852-0030 w
     (305) 942-7333 c
     Lad at REEF.org

More information about the Coral-List mailing list