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Venomous Lionfish found in SVG waters

Venomous Lionfish found in SVG waters

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Vincentians are being cautioned to look out for the venomous Lionfish, which has been found lurking in the waters of this country.{{more}}

On Wednesday, November 23, during a press conference held at the Ministry of Agriculture conference room, Minister with responsibility for Fisheries Montgomery Daniel revealed that on Monday, November 21, Calvert Richards, who was doing a recreational dive off the coast of Villa, sighted the Lionfish in approximately 30 feet of water.

“… He (Richards) called for help and caught the fish and brought it to the Fisheries Department.

“The sample is now in care of the Fisheries Department,” Daniel said.

Daniel warned that the brightly coloured fish, which has white stripes alternated with red, maroon, or brown, is a predator that eats almost every species of fish that comes into its path.

“It lives basically around the reefs where a lot of the Groupers and Hinds will lay their eggs…,” he said.

Referring to the fish as a “pest” and a “predator”, the Minister said the Lion Fish could create a “further reduction in fish which is food that is available to us.”

He further noted that it is not easy to eradicate this fish because it reproduces every month and can lay up to 30,000 eggs at one time.

“The Ministry is currently working along individuals to see how we can try and control this fish…

“This fish is not going to be easy to control, and the general public must be aware that the Fisheries Department will do its endeavour best to ensure that we try and use whatever levels of control that we can to reduce its presence. It’s not going to be easy to eliminate, but it is here with us, and so it is the purpose of the Ministry to ensure that the general public knows what is happening in relation to the fisheries industry,” Daniel added.

An adult Lionfish can grow as large as 17 inches (43 cm) in length, while juveniles may be shorter than 1 inch (2.5 cm).

If attacked, a Lionfish can deliver potent venom via its needle-like dorsal fins. Its sting is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.

A Lionfish can live up to 10 years. The venomous spines protrude from the body like a mane, giving it the common name of the Lionfish. The venomous spines make the fish inedible or deter most potential predators, and as a result there are no definitive predators of the Lionfish.

Over the past three years, the Lionfish has been discovered in the waters of other Caribbean countries, such as, Grenada, Antigua, St. Kitts and Dominica.

According to the National Ocean Service, the Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific, but are now established along the Southeast coast of the U.S., the Caribbean, and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico.

So how did the fish get to the Atlantic? While the exact cause is unknown, it’s likely that humans provided a helping hand. Experts speculate that people have been dumping unwanted Lionfish from home aquariums into the Atlantic Ocean for up to 25 years.

Since Lionfish are not native to Atlantic waters, they have very few predators. They are carnivores that feed on small crustaceans and fish, including the young of important commercial fish species such as snapper and grouper. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers have unfortunately concluded that invasive lionfish populations will continue to grow and cannot be eliminated using conventional methods. Marine invaders are nearly impossible to eradicate once established.

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