Lionfish threats food safety of people of the Island of San Andres
Taking into account that as much as million of these fish are estimated to thrive in the coasts of the Island of San Andres and eat up to 2 grams of food a day; researches think this invasive species consumes almost 700 tons of fish (especially fry) per year.Bogotá D. C., 12 de mayo de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
The lionfish was an aquarium exhibition species in Florida 30 years ago until it was released and currently is abundant in the Caribbean.
As determined by research carried out by four Colombian universities including the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) and the Marine and Coastal Research Institute (INVEMAR, for its Spanish acronym.)
UNal researchers collected a significant amount of these fish for the study. They determined that each female can release up to 2 million eggs per year and can begin to spawn even before being one year old.
Regarding feeding habits, they determined that each individual can eat as much as 2 grams of food per day and that halibut fry are among their favorite food as well as young halibut fish. They also consume crustaceans, grunts and parrotfish which are economically important and help keep the ecological balance.
“In the case of the halibut, preying on the fry is a strategy to eliminate its main competitor as adult halibuts prey on lionfish. Controlling this species (the lionfish) is important as an increased population could threaten the food safety of coastal populations,” said UNal Professor Arturo Acero.
Due to overfishing in the area, and particularly of halibut, where a fillet can cost up to COL 25,000 (USD 8.46) in a regular quality restaurant, lionfish are running out of natural predators.
Therefore in Acero’s opinion and given the lionfish are edible, one alternative is encourage artisanal fishermen to capture this fish through marketing alternatives which will allow them and other consumers to have a fish food alternative to take to the dining table.
“The remedy is to exterminate it, but fishermen need to be cautious in doing so as it is also a venomous fish. Fishermen know this and authorities need to work of providing knowledge to fishermen to avoid stings,” he said.
According to the biologist it is difficult to ensure that lionfish are responsible for diminishing fishing. However what is evident is that with increased populations of this fish, the situation will only get worse.
“It is difficult to predict what will happen in the future in terms of time and saying if it will be in 5, 10 or 15 years, but with the current scenario, sooner or later we will have serious consequences,” he said.(Por: Fin/HEV/DMH/APBL