|DECR gets grant to help curb lionfish invasion|
|Thursday, 01 April 2010 14:49|
In yet another good news from the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, a new grant has been awarded to push strategies and plans aimed at curbing the lionfish invasion in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The grant, amounting to $30,000, was given by the United Kingdom’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to monitor, control and raise awareness of the threat of the lionfish in the territory.
After witnessing the Indo-Pacific lionfish invasion in the Bahamas, the TCI government has been very concerned about their recent invasion into waters here and the subsequent effects on TCI’s extensive coral reef and marine life.
Measures have since been put in place to capture the invasive fish. In fact, the DECR has introduced ways to educate the public on how to deal with lionfish and its effects. The most recent were the lionfish tournament and lionfish “cook-off.” The former encourages the public to catch as many lionfish as possible while the latter encourages everyone to make lionfish a delicious meal.
The physical removal of the lionfish from TCI waters is a priority for DECR officials, and Scientific Officer Marlon Hibbert says a plan is in place to do just that. He says lionfish can be safely eaten after the venom-filled spines are properly removed.
In relation to the grant, top Department officials said that the sourcing and receiving of the funds is part of the strategic action plan to combat the invasion by the Indo-Pacific lionfish promptly to minimize damage to the marine environment. Inability to do so, they say, would be detrimental to both the thriving fishing industry and the tourism business that is the backbone of TCI economy.
It has already been documented that non-native marine fishes can pose a major threat to marine fisheries, habitats and eco-system function. Increased reports of non-native species and the successful invasion of Indo-Pacific lionfish in Atlantic waters have proven the need for early warning and rapid response to confirmed sightings.
Lionfish are voracious predators and have been shown to eat native fish and crustaceans (lobsters, shrimp and crabs) in large quantities, including juvenile fishes. Scientists also stated that these fish are equipped with venomous dorsal, ventral and anal spines, which deter predators and can cause painful wounds in humans.
For more information about the lionfish, the public is encouraged to visit the DECR office at the National Environmental Centre Building in Lower Bight, Providenciales, or call 941-5122.
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Below are links to their articles, plus related news articles, documents and laws.
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Links to environmental documents and laws