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Lionfish: How this Invasive Species is Ruining Our Aquatic Life

LionfishInvasiveSpeciesAquatic life near Sarasota is under attack. A horrific new problem has arrived on our shores in the form of the Lionfish species of fish entering our channels and wreaking havoc on other species of fish and water-based life.

A Predatory Fish
Lionfish are a venomous fish species that are native to the Red Sea and the Indo-Pacific ocean. They are an invasive species that are beautiful to look at, but can cause severe harm to any marine life they encounter. Lionfish are skilled predators and have a voracious appetite. They hunt down and eat any type of fish or invertebrate they can find. In addition, their bodies have a defense mechanism in the form of venomous spines, that can cause a great deal of pain and injury to any human that encounters them.

These fish are a popular choice for aquariums and fish tanks because of their attractive appearance, but are often dumped in nearby water bodies once the owner gets bored. As a result, a rapid increase in the population of local Lionfish has been observed in the last few years. Another main reason for this is that Lionfish are capable of reproducing all year long, with females producing more than 50,000 eggs every three days.

Method of Removal
With such rapid expansion, it's become near impossible to contain the local population of Lionfish. Additionally, their indiscriminate eating habits has resulted in the severe reduction in population of other fish species found nearby. Professional fishers have been searching for ways to counter the Lionfish menace for many years now.

The strategy that needs to be adopted now to keep the Lionfish population in check is to harvest their population. Traditional hook-and-line fishing methods can be used to catch the fish, and special permits can be obtained for using more sophisticated fishing traps. This method of physical removal requires a great deal of time investment, and has the best chance of succeeding if the entire community comes together.

Chef Steve of the restaurant Indigenous is greatly experienced in taking Lionfish and turning it into delicious dishes, such as his Ceviche dish which uses sea purslane grown in a local sustainable aquaponics system.