Stay connected with us
around the nation »

NOAA, Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute launch web portal to help managers fight invasive lionfish

Credit: USGS

The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and NOAA have partnered to launch a new web portal to provide managers, researchers, and the public with the latest information on the lionfish invasion in the Atlantic.

The Invasive Lionfish Web Portal serves as a clearinghouse for all things related to lionfish outreach and education, research, monitoring, and management. It provides scientifically accurate information for coastal managers, educators and the public on the lionfish invasion and its impacts by providing training videos, fact sheets, examples of management plans, and guidelines for monitoring.

The authors of the web portal include NOAA scientists and policy experts, non-profit environmental groups, academic scientists, and coastal managers from the Southeast U.S., Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico who together bring decades of experience fighting the lionfish invasion.

“Lionfish may prove to be one of the greatest threats of this century to fisheries in the Wider Caribbean Region,” said Nancy Daves of NOAA-Fisheries Office of International Affairs.  “We are partnering with Dr. James Morris and others in NOAA’s Center for Coastal Ocean Services to extend NOAA’s expertise internationally. With the lionfish web portal, coastal managers, scientists, and the public can work together to manage and better understand the lionfish and its economic and ecological impacts.”

One of the site’s special features is an interactive front page that includes live Twitter (#lionfish), Flickr, YouTube, and Google news feeds. It also includes a lionfish distribution map and discussion forum, as well as image and video contests.

NOAA launched an "Eat Lionfish" campaign aimed at promoting consumption of lionfish.
Credit: Reef  Environmental Education Foundation

“The lionfish web portal was built to bring together scientists and coastal managers to share information and gather resources,” said GCFI’s executive director Bob Glazer. “We are confident that we can control lionfish in many places such as marine protected areas, sanctuaries, and other conservation areas if the many strategies and tools provided on the lionfish web portal are used.”

Introduced into the southeast Atlantic through the U.S. aquarium trade in the 1980s, lionfish are firmly established in a range from North Carolina to South America, including the Gulf of Mexico. Lionfish are considered an aggressive threat to native fish populations and continue to cause ecological damage throughout their range.

Coastal managers are working to catch and control lionfish in some conservation areas using methods such as adopt-a-reef programs, paid or volunteer removal efforts, fishing derbies, and commercial harvesting of lionfish as a food fish or for other end uses including the aquarium or jewelry trades.

This project was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Conservation and Water. Collaborating partners include NOAA’s Office of International Affairs, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), GCFI, the Reef  Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), the International Coral Reef Initiative, and Oregon State University.