Lionfish population under control near-shore but increasing in deep waterPOSTED: 07/5/12 1:19 PM
St. Maarten – Nature Foundation researcher Tineke van Bussel presented the findings of her recently concluded research project on the lionfish population and its effects on the local coral reef ecosystem at the Nature Foundation offices on Tuesday. The project lasted for six months.
“The results show minimal early effects on native species and give the impression that lionfish densities are still under control in St. Maarten’s waters. Credit for the current state has to be given to Nature Foundation who interfered in an early invasion stadium by making besides the community aware and involved in controlling the lionfish. Lionfish densities have to be kept as low as possible to prevent long term negative effects on native species,” van Bussel said.
Although current effects were minimal on near-shore areas, there are some indications that deeper areas which lay beyond the reach of scuba divers are having some increase in lionfish numbers. Fishermen are increasingly bringing in lionfish which were caught on fishing grounds in deeper waters. The foundation is therefore looking at ways in which it can provide fishermen with the tools necessary to trap the animals at sites not accessible to scuba divers.
Van Bussel will continue to work on the lionfish invasion on St. Maarten and in the Caribbean.