TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: Hunt them down - EntornoInteligente

News day / Community Education Officer of the Institute of Marine Affairs Lori Lee Lum on Friday told Newsday that at last year’s lionfish derby, divers killed close to 400 in two days.

“No natural predators can get rid of the lionfish, so it has to be hunted,” Lee Lum said.

Lee Lum spoke with Newsday on the Brian Lara Promenade where the Institute of Marine Affairs held an educational awareness programme on the lionfish.

It attracted a number of passers-by.

They provided handouts and other tokens in the campaign.

Together with the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute, they provided samples of the lionfish to the visitors who said they love the taste.

In Jamaica, Lee Lum said, the lionfish is a regular on their menu.

Three restaurants and eateries in Tobago.

have it on their menu.

Contrary to popular opinion, she said, the meat of the lionfish is not poisonous.

Because it is not poisonous, it is being promoted as a delicacy on the menus of many Caribbean countries in an bid to reduce the lionfish population.

Three restaurants and eateries in Tobago.

have it on their menu.

However, the spiky fins are venomous, should the lionfish strike. There is treatment for the sting.

Calling on divers and fishermen to intensify the “Sustain the hunt. Stop lionfish” campaign which began last year with the derby, Lee Lum, said, more derbies are being planned with stakeholders. Some of the stakeholders include the Association of Tobago Dive Tour Operators, Ricks Dive World, All Tobago Fisherfolk, Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries, Tobago House of Assembly, Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, and fishing associations in Trinidad.

More recently, the lionfish which causes ecological damage to the coral reefs, reduces the population of juvenile and small fish by up to 90 percent, has recently found its way to mangroves, Lee Lum said.

They eat the herbivores like the wrasses and parrotfish that keep algae from overgrowing the coral reefs.

The mangroves are also nurseries for different species of fishes.

They decrease the abundance of the commercial fish stock such as snappers and groupers, and shrimp and crab.

The lionfish, which is native to the Indo- Pacific, also outnumbers the native fish populations in many locations.

Noting the danger that the lionfish pose to the fishing stock in Trinidad and Tobago waters, she said, the lionfish is not caught in nets like regular fish because they stay close to the jagged edges of the coral reefs and now the shores where mangroves are located.

As such, she said, a special “fish pot” ( a trap) is being developed to try to catch the prey.

Fishermen in Tobago have caught the lionfish in fish pots they set for the regular fish.

The lionfish is known by other names such as zebra fish, turkey fish, peacock lionfish, and butterfly cod. Thy grow to about 18 inches in length.

TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: Hunt them down

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