Guide to Control and Management of Invasive Lionfish available online.
Scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and its partners teamed up to create the first ever guidelines for coastal managers to control the spread of invasive lionfish that are taking food and habitat from native fish that are important to the local ecology and economy. Lionfish have no natural predators and are now found in waters from North Carolina south to Florida, the Caribbean, and all Gulf of Mexico states.
Today lionfish are found in nearly all marine habitats in the Atlantic along the Southeast United States and in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean waters. Densities of lionfish have surpassed some native reef fish in many locations. The ecological impacts of this invasion are far-reaching — from disruptions to the structure and function of reef communities to impacts on commercial fishing and the tourism industry.
This new manual, Invasive Lionfish: A Guide to Control and Management includes the best available science and practices for controlling lionfish in marine protected areas, national parks, and other conservation areas.
“Invasive lionfish pose a clear and present threat to coastal marine ecosystems and fisheries of the tropical Western Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico,” said Mark Hixon, Ph.D., a prominent coral reef ecologist of Oregon State University. ”This new guide is a comprehensive compendium of up-to-date information for understanding and effectively addressing this worst of marine invasions.”
Among the suggestions to control lionfish in the manual are:
- Managers should involve the entire community — including fishers, dive operators, the public, and seafood industries — in their management plans.
- How often Lionfish need to be removed can vary widely depending on their habitat.
- Events such as lionfish fishing derbies can remove large numbers of the species in short periods of time.