AUG 28, 2020 10:54 AM PDT

Will Traps Solve the Invasive Lionfish Problem?

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

Extravagant and spiny lionfish were once highly sought after by home aquarium hobbyists. These venomous fish are native to the Indo-Pacific region, but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in 1985, they were detected along the coast of Florida. NOAA and other organizations believe that lionfish were released into nonnative areas by the same hobbyists that once cherished them.

Since the 1980s, lionfish populations have exploded in nonnative regions, officially making them an invasive species in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. Due to rapid population growth, hearty appetites, and few predators, lionfish decimate the native habitats in which they’ve invaded. The Invasive Lionfish Web Portal states, “the invasion of lionfish may prove to be one of the greatest threats of this century to warm temperate and tropical Atlantic reefs.”

Several organizations are working to control lionfish populations and find alternative uses beyond aquarium display. NOAA suggests that lionfish should be harvested as food, an industry that makes live trapping, rather than poisoning or spearing, a necessity. The AP reports that Whole Foods sells whole lionfish at $10.99 per pound, but the supply is unreliable. In addition to providing a reliable harvest, the AP reports that live traps could also reach depths not currently accessible by spearfishing divers.

According to the AP, a recent study evaluated the effectiveness of one such live trap. The study, published this week in PLOS ONE, cites spearfishing as the primary mitigation method for this invasive species. However, a nonlethal trap would aid in expanding a commercial lionfish fishery. The trap would need to be “lionfish specific” to prevent unwanted bycatch and minimize damage to the surrounding habitat.

Steven Gittings, the science director from NOAA’s Office of Marine Sanctuaries, invented a modified lobster trap that has shown positive results. As seen in the video, when correctly deployed, this type of trap is successful in attracting and trapping lionfish with low bycatch. According to the study, for every ten lionfish, only one non-targeted fish was caught.

More work is needed to perfect these traps, but they are a step in the right direction to eradicate invasive lionfish and add a unique seafood option to menus.

Sources: AP News, PLOS One, NOAA, Invasive Lionfish Web Portal
 

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
NOV 18, 2020
Health & Medicine
Rising Temperatures May Increase Tick-Borne Diseases in Humans
NOV 18, 2020
Rising Temperatures May Increase Tick-Borne Diseases in Humans
New research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene warns that climate ...
DEC 07, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Monitoring marine animal activity under the sea
DEC 07, 2020
Monitoring marine animal activity under the sea
In a new study published in the journal Animal Biotelemetry, researchers report on the development of an applicatio ...
JAN 21, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
A Practical Reason Why Cats Love Catnip
JAN 21, 2021
A Practical Reason Why Cats Love Catnip
Cats love catnip and silver vine; the cat-attracting plants are treats that make cats excited and happy. Big cats also f ...
JAN 30, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Invasive species reduce water resources in Ethiopia
JAN 30, 2021
Invasive species reduce water resources in Ethiopia
An invasive evergreen tree, known as Prosopis juliflora, is quite the thirsty species. Prosopis has taken over large swa ...
JAN 29, 2021
Microbiology
A 635-Million-Year-Old Microfungus That May Have Saved Life on Earth
JAN 29, 2021
A 635-Million-Year-Old Microfungus That May Have Saved Life on Earth
An international team reported finding a filamentous microfossil found in South China, shown in this image by Andrew Cza ...
MAR 31, 2021
Plants & Animals
Spring Winds Following Warmer Winters Cause Mass Jellyfish Strandings
MAR 31, 2021
Spring Winds Following Warmer Winters Cause Mass Jellyfish Strandings
Beachgoers are certainly not fond of jellyfish in the water, but seeing hundreds of them wash ashore is an interesting a ...
Loading Comments...