Lionfish have always been a prime species in aquariums with their intricate colorful patterns and unusual fins. However, due to these Indo-Pacific natives being released into the Gulf of Mexico and their super predator nature, native fish like snappers, grunts and groupers have been diminished. Specifically, species that are helpful for reefs such as algae eating bacteria are being consumed by Lionfishes. In the Bahamas between 2008 and 2010 Lionfish reduced the biomass of 42 other fishes by an average of 65 percent. A Lionfish’s diverse appetite, massive reproductive abilities and lack of interest from native predators allow their great success in these warm temperate and tropical Atlantic reefs.
In order to curb the problem of invasive Lionfishes, conservationists have begun recreational and commercial harvesting the predatory species for food to decrease the populations. For example, a one-day derby event in Florida Keys, participants caught 1,400 lionfishes and reduced the local population by 60 percent. These derbies have been one of the most effective tool for population suppression at a local scale. As a bonus, Lionfish consumption has up ticked and chefs have dedicated dishes to these prickly fishes. The goal is for humans to eat their way out of this Lionfish problem. Lionfish are nutritious and detailed to be delicious with their sweet and flaky meat.
Another initiative that is being developed is the deployment of fish fighting robots to combat Lionfish. Robots in Service of the Environment, the inventors of this new technology, designed the robots to stun and capture Lionfish at depths that human divers are incapable of reaching. The robot is about three and a half feet long and about 20 pounds. It is equipped with a camera and controlled by a digital tablet operated at the surface. The robot is capable of collecting up to 10 lionfishes on each dive and is done by probing two 14 inch electrical probes. Unique solutions like such are essential in mitigating environmental concerns for a modernizing world.