Researcher concludes study on Lionfish in local waters

Lionfish under control in near-shore waters but show increase in deep water

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Nature Foundation researcher Ms. Tineke van Bussel recently concluded a six month research project in the Lionfish Population and its effects on the local Coral Reef ecosystem on St. Maarten. Ms. van Bussel held a presentation of her findings at the Nature Foundation offices on Tuesday during which she outlined her findings to a small group of interested persons:
“The results show minimal early effects on native species and give the impression that lionfish densities are still under control in Sint Maarten’s waters. Credit for the current state has to be given to Nature Foundation Sint who interfered in an early invasion stadium by making besides Nature 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,” said Ms. van Bussel based on her findings.
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 to the Nature Foundation which were caught on fishing grounds in deeper waters. The Foundation is therefore looking at ways in which it can provide fishermen the tools necessary to trap the animals on sights not accessible to scuba divers.
Ms. Van Bussel will continue to work on the Lionfish invasion on St. Maarten and in the Caribbean.