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If we can't Beat'em then Let's Eat'em
To do scientific research, education, and training to implement strategies that protect Western Atlantic and Caribbean reefs from loss of marine life, through practical implementations that create economic benefits for practices that promote long term reef health. The mission is carried out through projects.
HISTORY AND CONCERN
In a relatively short period of time, invasive Lionfish from the Pacific have expanded from an unknown source in Florida Northward up the Atlantic Coast, Southward into the Gulf of Mexico, Central America, all islands of the Caribbean even as far as Tobago, and now they are entering into Brazil and South America.
Lionfish reproduce rapidly and have no natural predators. They prey on juveniles and small reef fish dramatically affecting marine life populations. Lionfish are not susceptible to catching through angling with bait so neither traditional netting nor angling works. However, they are attracted to structure.
The reef management protocol by NOAA (United States) has evolved from waiting to see if native species would predate, to killing and leaving Lionfish on the reef, to feeding other species, to the current suggestion of removal by scuba.
However, nothing has been effective at removing Lionfish below open water limits for recreational SCUBA volunteers: Lionfish populations have been observed by submarines at 800 feet (265 meters) below the surface.
With SCUBA only, even if one cleans out the first 130 feet deep (recreational SCUBA limits), the deeper ones can simply move up or down from the depths into the good structure vacated by the removed Lionfish. We have also observed that this technique only affects regularly dived areas. Even after a removal, in non dived areas the Lionfish are everywhere.
While culling by SCUBA might be workable on a small scale it is far too costly in terms of training, supplies and equipment to be viable for long term consistent removal of lionfish that is economically self-sustaining.
For a self-sustaining solution there must be an economic model that can efficiently catch Lionfish consistently and safely. Having effective lionfish traps is seen as the solution, working in conjunction with culling since one can not drop traps on a reef.
By creating a system with economic benefits for local participates, our goal is to eventually make this self-sustaining by helping to create a new Lionfish industry where Lionfish will be as common in fish markets as flounder or lobster.
Safety. Respect. Integrity. Teamwork. Excellence. Stewardship. Astonishment
BEQUIA LIONFISH TRAP TEST PROJECT
11 August - 9 September 2018
Build Traps Locally Where Resources are Limited:Study Trap Aggregation, Lionfish Behavior and Educate the Public.
STATUS:Completed - President's Progress Report
October 2018 - October 2019
Improve Trap Efficiency and Productivity: Demonstrate Successful Business Model
STATUS: Work In Progress
October 2019 - 2023
Use What Works: Deployment to Other Affected Areas
STATUS: Planning Stage