The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has stepped up recent lionfish removal dives both inside and outside of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area after the conservation organization noted an increase in the lionfish population waters surrounding the island. Over the last few weeks during their regular lionfish sweeps, Foundation staff have noticed an increase in the venomous creatures, particularly along some beaches and dive sites. “We have removed nine specimens during one day’s work from bathing beaches on the Dutch Side and we will return in a week or so to do follow-up checks,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.
The Nature Foundation is also collaborating with various universities in the United States and in the Netherlands on various research projects figuring out ways to monitor and control the population.
Lionfish are an invasive venomous fish that can inflict a painful and sometimes fatal sting. Lionfish are usually found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans but were introduced into the Atlantic thru the aquarium trade. Native fish species don’t recognize the Lionfish as a threat so they are unable to defend themselves against it. In other places were lionfish were spotted there are hardly any snappers and grouper left because those are the type of fish the lionfish likes to eat.
The Nature Foundation encourages fishermen, divers and all those who may have captured or sighted lionfish to report their catch or sightings to the Nature Foundation through calling 5270490 or via email at ma*****@na*****************.org.