Log In

Reset Password

Unite to kill off lionfish

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
The lionfish can be held responsible for the depletion of fish stock, and even the seasonal lobster (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

With all the commotion over the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme, it should not escape the attention that while we are fighting with one another on land, there is an enemy on water persisting to threaten our long-term future — the lionfish.

I am a veteran hook-and-line fisherman and have never had traps, so there is no conflict of interest here. My primary focus, and that for all fishermen, is to have the issue of these invasive lionfish addressed once and for all.

What better way for the Government and fishermen to show they can come together to work on a matter for the benefit of Bermuda. Otherwise, they will continue unchecked in their bid to destroy our food sources.

Send the lobster fleet out to target the lionfish, armed with existing pots modified with five-inch funnel hoops and extra escape slots up to two inches wide and very tall. This being a best guess after studying and measuring big 17-inch specimens of Lionfish. Obviously, the real trap operators may have significant input on this crucial aspect. These measurements would have to be assessed periodically to achieve the objective of maximising lionfish culling.

The small funnel should give you the opportunity to tag and release large numbers of undersized lobsters for gathering of information, as they may be recaptured in the future. Perhaps see if you can raise money to compensate them for tagged lobster with length information submitted with complete tag card. I believe people would pay to have lobsters released, and in this way the public can also be involved.

Bait them only with perforated PVC pipes with frozen ground fish which could be encased to attract small fish and which should attract the lionfish but be much less attractive to other sight foragers. Again, methods would need constant review and adjustment.

By-catch may be anticipated and should be OK for at least a few months while we work through these challenging times. Fishermen have had a disastrous year because of inclement weather — they could use a boost!

Strict reporting and filming even could be implemented to ensure valuable, accurate data can be generated. All could benefit from this temporary venture. It is high time to address the lionfish menace, especially as they may be involved in the decline of lobsters themselves.

The populations of coney, barber and the like have not been harvested since the removal of fish traps many years ago.

These resources need to be quantified and accessible to us in any future time of world food shortages. You could never harvest enough for us all with a hook and line.

Have the fishermen agree that a scientist can ride along without notice to pull the traps and catalogue catches. The lobstermen would then be able to sell lionfish, minimal amounts of by-catch and possibly be compensated for each lobster correctly tagged and released. Furthermore, they could be given a role in the fate of the lobster fishery through the lobster-release programme and culling of lionfish, who may well be threatening multiple other important species, including our black groupers, snappers and hinds.

The lionfish is known worldwide as a threat to ecosystems, and locals and visitors alike will be eager to eat this exotic fish and save the world. We could possibly arrive at a reliable source for hotels and restaurants to be able to offer the lionfish more often. Perhaps organise a wholesaler to take all the lionfish at an agreed price and even collect them at key locations.

We need to know the true numbers of lionfish around our platform to base future solutions. Any valuable information is going to cost you to get, so let’s harvest a few barbers and get a grip on these invasive predators who threaten the future of our ocean.

Finally, it would be great for the Government and fishing industry to be seen working together on this with mutual benefits reaped by all of Bermuda. A real tough decision to be made and supported by all in order to bring about positive change.

Kevin Winter is a longtime deep-sea charter fisherman who has a passion for the fish and birds of the ocean

• Kevin Winter is a longtime deep-sea charter fisherman who has a passion for the fish and birds of the ocean

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published August 28, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated August 27, 2023 at 7:38 am)

Unite to kill off lionfish

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon