With lionfish populations growing uncontrollably in Atlantic and Caribbean waters, it should come as no surprise that some people are promoting their capture and permanent removal from these waters. According to a CBS news story, a contest in Florida attracted over 100 divers to the Florida Keys where over 500 lionfish were caught. This derby, which is only one of three, gave prizes to the teams who hauled the most lionfish, as well the largest and smallest. One team even caught 111 individual lionfish, netting them a slick $1000 prize (pretty cheesy line, but I don’t care). The next two contests will be held on October 16th and November 13th if anyone is interested in going. And I hear lionfish actually taste pretty good, which may further incentivise their capture.
As discussed in a previous article, pet lionfish were set loose in Florida waters, where they rapidly multiplied. Whether or not the fish were intentionally put into Atlantic waters is a pointless argument, since it doesn’t change the fact that they are still there. Without any natural predators, the lionfish population has quickly grown out of control. And because lionfish are effective predators, they quickly consume baitfish in the area, which really throw food webs and the rest of the ecosystem out of whack.