Invasion of the Lionfish in America's Paradise

Published: 2018-10-23 06:51:06
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The impact of the invasion of the Lionfish

The lionfish is considered to be a ferocious ocean-based carnivore which is characterized by glitzy mane-like venomous spines. It is a maroon-and-white exotic creature, believed to have originated from indo-pacific and later on finding its way to the west through the thriving of the aquarium trade. Recently, there has been the inception of the wild lionfish which are dominant in the Gulf of Mexico. The increase in the number of the lionfishes as well as an increased production of its eggs from aquarium has been attributed to this invasion. Apparently, the invasion of the lionfish in various US Virgin Islands has significantly affected the lives of people. It can, therefore, be contended that lionfish have multiple adverse impacts on the marine environment: There is the need of overcoming this challenge by turning the encroachment of the lionfish into positive benefits throughout these territories.

The depletion of the local marine species and resources is one of the major negative consequence of the rising number of the lionfish. The long-term effects of the lionfish are not established. However, stakeholders and experts in the fisheries are concerned over the increasing number of lionfish in various US Islands. Pterois genus is one of the lionfish species, which originates from the venomous marine fishes (Clark, 2015). It is revealed that this type of a lionfish has a rapid reproduction. This culminated with a limited number of the predators makes Pterois genus to continue expanding in the number without a proper natural mechanism to control its exorbitant growing population.

Reports also indicate that for the last ten years, the population of the lionfish in Caribbean Islands has threatened to grow to uncontrollable levels. This is viewed as a great danger, not only to the ecology of tropical and subtropical marine regions but also to the sustainability of the biodiversity in the larger parts of the Caribbean region. Towards the end of 2012, a particular study done by an environmental lobby group called C.O.R.E indicated that the entire area of the Caribbean had been invaded by lionfish (SPAW.RAC, 2014). If left uncontrolled, it was alleged that the densities of the lionfish would continue flourishing in new regions, just like it was the case in the initial invasions in locations such as the Bahamas. Another point of concern is that lionfish densities have the tendencies of remaining high within a given sufficient time thus paving the way for the critical damaging of the reefs as well as fish species.

Invasion of the lionfish in various US Islands is a threat to human health

It is apparent that population explosion is impacting negatively on the coral reefs, sea grasses and marine lives in general. Lionfish is endowed with high efficiency when it comes predation on the juvenile, shellfish and adult fish. Apart from leading to the depletion of the marine resources, the huge population of the lionfish is also a threat to the flourishing of the recreational and commercial importance of the biodiversity (Morris, Thomas, Rhyne &Breen 2011). The wild nature of the lionfish predation will ultimately reduce the native reef fish. This will result in adverse effect on the ecosystem due to diminishing number of the native predators (reef fish). Furthermore, the content analysis on a lionfish depicts a great diversity in the form of the prey species and the related size classes.

Another adverse impact associated with lionfish invasion is on the livelihoods such as fishers and the economy. The encroachment of the lionfish makes the fishing industry to be vulnerable. The fisheries sector provides a significant number of job opportunities in the US economy. As the predators, lionfish has led to a decline in the population of other fish species. For instance, the lionfish preys on the reef fish which in turn has resulted in a reduction in the fish densities of the native species (Clark, 2015). This suggests that the growing number of the lionfish is a threat to the species which are otherwise valuable commercially. The depletion of the fish resources implies that the levels of fishing will ultimately dwindle. This has led to a huge dent on the proceedings and profitability of the economies relying on the fishing industry. There is, therefore, the need for controlling the escalating densities of the lionfish.

Lionfish also has adverse effects on the people's enjoyment and medical well-being. Lionfish are extremely venomous in nature which involves an injection of the neurotoxins which are hazardous to the humans and other animals (SPAW.RAC, 2014). The growing population of the lionfish is, therefore, a threat to individuals such as sea divers who risk being attacked by these wild species. It follows that the invasion of the lionfish in various US Islands is a threat to human health.

Conservation Concepts to Combat Lionfish Invasion in America

Since the inception of the lionfish menace in US Virgin Islands, there have been numerous initiatives meant to contain the situation. For example, there have been planned responses after the arrival of these invasive species of lionfish. In 2008, the indo-pacific lionfish was detected in the USVI and later removed from St. John US Park (COREvi, 2012). In 2009, REEF, which is non-profit organization embarked on visiting the local communities adjacent to USVI. The visit was significant was significant since it focused on the sensitization of the public regarding the impending invasion of the lionfish which is extremely dangerous to the human health but also to the whole marine ecosystem. The central message delivered to the community was to initiate the establishment of the Invasive Species Management Programs which ought to be built and applied in the entire territory.

There is also the need of introducing policies and management regulations to enhance the efforts of containing the escalating threat of the lionfish. An introduction and implementation of the rules meant to limit the initiation of the non-native marine species should be emphasized. Just like it is the case in Bermuda, there should strict bans should be enforced to discourage the importation of the live fish. This is viewed as an effective way of preventing the release of the eggs and lionfish through the aquarium (COREvi, 2012). The research should also be conducted to help the scientists in anticipating the future abundance of the lionfish, together with its associated impact towards the ecosystem. As part of the research, there should be a disclosure of the capabilities of the lionfish to endure reproduce and grow in a different marine environment.

The efforts of the conservation are also facilitated by the community groups and organizations which have been forefront in devising strategies that are significant in mitigating the threat brought by the increasing population of lionfish (Clark, 2015). For instance, various non-profit organizations have taken initiatives of sensitizing the public against the dangers of releasing aquarium fishes into the marine ecosystem. People are now aware of the health risks linked with handling the lionfish thus exercising high levels of caution.

US Virgin Islands

With the increasing threat posed by a growing population of the lionfish in various US Virgin Islands, there has been introduction and implementation of different strategies meant to combat this social challenge. The efforts have been a significant but not sufficient enough to eradicate the problems associated with lionfish invasion. There is the need of overcoming the hurdles brought by lionfish to benefit the targeted territory. The invasive lionfish has a great nutritional value which should be exploited to benefit the public (Morris, Thomas, Rhyne &Breen 2011). Studies indicate that the lionfish flesh is white and with a mild flavor, it is suitable for different culinary preparations.

It is recommended that new research should be enhanced to support the innovative ways of combatting the detrimental impact of the lionfish. This will include sponsoring of the local initiatives of re-educating the inhabitants of the US Virgin Islands regarding the lionfish. It will also feature efforts directed towards vigorous local marketing techniques as well as an introduction of the safe consumption of the lionfish which is deemed to be an efficient approach to controlling the population explosion of these invasive species.

Apparently, the invasion of the lionfish in various US Virgin Islands has significantly affected the lives of people. It can, therefore, be contended that lionfish have multiple adverse impacts on the marine environment: There is the need of overcoming this challenge by turning the encroachment of the lionfish into positive benefits throughout these territories. It is important that necessary measures are taken to quell the threat brought lionfish species.

References

Clark, C. (2015, November 10). Lionfish study explores idea of eating an ecological problem. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-lionfish-explores-idea-ecological-problem.html

Invasive Lionfish. (COREvi, 2017). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://www.corevi.org/invasive-lionfish.html

James A. Morris, J., Amber, T., Andrew L., R., Nancy, B., Lad, A., & Barry, N. (2011). Nutritional properties of the invasive lionfish: A delicious and nutritious approach for controlling the invasion. Aquaculture, Aquarium, Conservation & Legislation, (1),

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