5/17/2016 – Molly O’Neil

Today was day seven of the “Lionfish in the Caribbean” course. Now one week in, we’re enthusiastically learning more about Lionfish management and what we will be working on in the field.

Education – The Earlier, the Better

We spent some time today going over how Education and Outreach (E&O) programs are structured to build support for Lionfish control programs. In general, programs that educate the public about Lionfish are most effective when they are put in place before an invasion – the earlier, the better. However, due to the rapid spread of the species, catching them before they move in isn’t always possible. With this in mind, what is the best way to use education to minimize the impacts of a Lionfish invasion?

The key idea here is messaging. Messaging involves taking the goals of an organization and communicating them effectively through different media outlets. Messaging must be goal orientated and specific to target audiences. It should always be credible and should consider the target audience when deciding on a media outlet, whether it is through TV, radio, newspapers, flyers, websites, or something more creative. Now, these strategies are all pretty conceptual. Let’s take a step back and see how messaging can be effectively used to convince different stakeholders to support creating a market for lionfish.

Tourists: Tourists in the Caribbean are generally interested in exploring the beauty of coral reefs. When educating tourists about the Lionfish invasion, it should be framed as a tasty opportunity to preserve the nature that they love to enjoy. Sometimes, integrating Lionfish removal into dive trips can be an effective method of entertainment, education, and eradication.

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Dive operators may incorporate Lionfish removal into their dive tours, giving tourists the chance to observe the fish before it is removed.

Fishermen: Commercial fishermen are concerned about their ability to earn a livelihood by fishing local waters. When educating fishermen about this issue, the Lionfish should be framed as a threat to commercial species as well as an economic opportunity.

In all E&O programs, measuring success is extremely important. After all, what good is an educational program if you don’t know if it’s actually educating? Programs should collect feedback and track participation in order to determine if the program is working.


Controlling Lionfish invasions steps these issues up to a whole new level of difficulty. Again, early detection is key but often unrealistic. Therefore, most control efforts focus on efficiently using resources to control the invasion in popular, vulnerable, or easily accessible areas. This requires a strong coordinated effort from many different stakeholder groups such as governments, NGOs, researchers, volunteers, divers, and fishermen. When all of these actors put their heads together, they can come up with some truly inventive ideas for Lionfish control.


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These ideas are almost always centered on physical removal. Some divers tag sites where Lionfish are typically known to live with markers so that they can be removed more efficiently at a later date. Others use hand nets to remove Lionfish, especially in areas where fishing with a spear is not allowed. They can also be caught and stored in a bag, as shown in the photo above. Spearfishing is generally considered to be the most effective method of removing Lionfish, but it requires quite a bit of training and in some cases, regulation.

Some groups have even begun organizing special events and contents to encourage Lionfish removal. For example, some organizations hold Lionfish derbies, which challenge contestants to catch the largest amount of Lionfish in a short period of time. Prizes are typically given for the most fish, the biggest fish, and the smallest fish. These types of competitions can also be held on a longer scale, such as over the course of a month. Although these types of events have been highly effective, there is speculation about the availability of continued funding for them.

There is a broad array of unique methods to control Lionfish, but unfortunately not all of them work. Today in class, we realized that one of the most intriguing potential control methods had been debunked. Some scientists have suggested that it may be possible to teach native fish species to prey on Lionfish. In order to teach this behavior, divers would hand feed dead Lionfish to native species in hopes of changing their preferences. Unfortunately, this attempt did not go as planned. Instead of eating more Lionfish, native species such as Barracuda began to associate divers with food, resulting in hostile encounters and Barracuda bites. Ouch!

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The Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Inc. (REEF)

All of this information about E&O and management is certainly a lot to take in. So, what do these strategies look like in the real areas that are facing Lionfish invasions? The Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Inc. (REEF) is an excellent example of an organization that is developing effective E&O strategies and helping with Lionfish management. The organization’s Lionfish project provides a go-to source for reporting Lionfish sightings, which aid scientists who are trying to understand the spread of the species. It also sponsors and organizes Lionfish derbies in the Bahamas and in Florida. Finally, the organization hosts Lionfish workshops, where divers can learn about the fish and how to handle and remove it safely. This is an example of an organization that is effectively using targeted messaging and well-developed management goals to create effective strategies for controlling the Lionfish invasion.

What About Markets?

Interestingly, our reading for today merely brushed over the idea of creating a market for Lionfish as a solution to the invasion. This seems to be a recurring theme, largely because of anecdotal worries about the possibility of fishermen leaving juvenile fish and instead only catching fully-grown Lionfish that will fetch a better price. This project is the first to really examine this issue and more in order to create the possibility for a “triple win.” In an ideal situation, creating a market for Lionfish will have three positive benefits. First, it will provide an economic opportunity for fishermen. Second, it will reduce Lionfish densities in sensitive environments. And third, if fishermen have an economic incentive to catch Lionfish, it could reduce pressure on other commercial species. Talk about an idea worth exploring!

Field Work Preparations

After all that talk about E&O and management, we spent some time at the end of class practicing for our fieldwork. In St. Croix, we will be responsible for intercept surveys and interviewing locals and tourists in the USVI about their seafood preferences and their willingness to eat Lionfish. We had a great time asking each other the survey questions and giving each other a hard time to prepare for unexpected survey encounters. Overall, everyone was much more comfortable with the daunting task of interviewing strangers by the time class was over. We are looking forward to traveling to St. Croix and putting our newest skills to use!

5/16/2016 – Kaetlyn Lee

Nacimera and Rastas

We had a change of pace for the sixth day of the “Lionfish in the Caribbean” course, where we had Georgia Southern University Associate Professor, Jennifer Tookes as an instructor for today’s class! With a formal educational background in anthropology, Dr. Tookes helped us to understand not only the overall history of the Caribbean islands, but also the ins and outs of conducting field research in the Caribbean.

First, we were introduced with the story of the Caribbean islands and how they came to be what they are today. We were given a map similar to the one pictured below but with no labels and as we went through the lecture, we were able to label these different islands. We traced the main historical points of the Caribbean from when Columbus first arrived to when the U.S. bought the current U.S. Virgin Islands in 1917. Some important points were the use of African slave labor on sugar plantations as well as the migration to and from and within the different islands once slavery was abolished.

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Learning about the history of the Caribbean helped to give us a little bit more insight into the culture of the islands as the U.S. Virgin Islands do have a very different culture from the “mainland.” Thus, we began discussing the article we were assigned the night before called, “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” which satirizes the early social rituals of America, or “Nacirema” backwards. Similar to some of my classmates, I was tipped off of the satirical nature of the article when they mentioned a noble hero who is known by the great feat of the “chopping down of a cherry tree in which the Spirit of Truth resided.” Another classmate googled “Nacirema” to figure out what the article was exactly alluding to and I decided to do the same to see what came up. I found the political cartoons as seen below which perfectly sum up the purpose of the term “Nacirema” and the article.

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In conclusion, the Nacirema article is supposed to change the perspective of the reader to show how the American cultural norms can be seen as extremely radical and unusual when put into different words or as seen by an outsider. Therefore, it pushes its audience to not be so quick to judge other cultures and that while we may see other culture’s practices as completely bizarre and sometimes scary, we must be quick to stop ourselves and to be completely objective when observing.

To elaborate of this topic, we did an exercise in class where pairs of us made similar paragraphs to that of the Nacirema article but adapting different American cultural practices. For example, one group described the rituals of Christmas as when families put up a tree-like shrine, often made of plastic trimmings in which we ordained with plastic spheres, and that on a certain day, a large man would break into homes to leave presents under such shrine.

Furthermore, we also read an article called “Nice Girls Don’t Talk to Rastas” which explains an incident where a female student doing research in Barbados is seen hanging out with a Rasta man and all of her previous relationships which she had built up over the previous months, disappear as the community begins to shun her because she spends time with a social outcast. Therefore, while we are out doing our research, it is vital to realize that every community has a set of cultural norms and just because we are tourists or researchers, we are not exempt to those norms.

Dr. Tookes also offered some last-minute tips when conducting field research. She mentioned “participation observation” (participating in a culture but at the same time, observing and analyzing to achieve a greater understanding, identifying the unspoken, contradictions between words and behaviors(conflicts, unstated actions, deception “sucker bias”)), explaining yourself (be prepared for questions both hostile and friendly), and presenting yourself (discussing proper attire and professionalism when conducting surveys). She gave an overview of what to expect on the islands and an interesting point she made is that we are NOT doing this:

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This Instagram account pokes fun at how volunteers often use their work as an opportunity to show off and to show themselves as a “self-sacrificing saint.” While the work many volunteers do is actually meaningful, such a presence on social media takes away from their sincerity and authenticity and is it up to us to not aspire to be like this. And while we will be on beautiful tropical islands, we should refrain from Instagramming ourselves “saving the Caribbean islands one lionfish at a time.” More information can be found at this website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-savior-barbie-hilariously-parodies-volunteer-selfies-in-africa_us_570fd4b5e4b03d8b7b9fc464

On a final note, last week I had mentioned in class of the use of lionfish patterns on surf suits to deter sharks from attacking surfers. After some research, it seems there is still a bit of skepticism in the effectiveness of this product. If interested, more information can be found on this article: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/07/01/lionfish-patterned-suit-said-to-repel-sharks/. It even has a special mention of the proposal of training sharks to attack lionfish!

5/13/2016 – Jeff Kraprayoon

Fisheries Management: A Love-Hate Relationship

Lionfish invasions are an ecological disaster. These venomous, yet beautiful, creatures are roaming their new habitat, the Atlantic reefs. They are depleting the stocks of native fish. They are damaging the tourism industry. They are contributing to the degradation of the fishery system as a whole.


So, there you have it. Lionfish are bad and we want to get rid of them. The question is: how do we accomplish that? It’s a lot more complicated than it seems because there are multiple components and multiple disciplines involved. One way to approach this problem is to begin by understanding and analyzing how fisheries in the U.S., and especially the Virgin Islands, are managed. To be honest, it’s quite complex.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act governs fisheries in the U.S. This act was created in 1976 for the purpose of managing fish stocks and establishing control over coastal waters. The decentralization of management authority into eight Fishery Management Councils allows each regional council to manage its own fish stocks. The Caribbean Council manages fish stocks in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

By now, you may be wondering how fish stocks are managed. In simplest terms, there are policy-makers and there are scientific communities. The policy-makers consist of the council. Council members are political appointees that usually represent the heads of state fishery agencies, commercial fishermen, and recreational anglers.

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Management of U.S. Fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Act – Diagram from “The impact of empowering scientific advisory committees to constrain catch limits in US fisheries” (Crosson 2012)

The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) guides each council. These people, along with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Science Centers, make up the scientific community. The NMFS science centers help produce data on fish stock assessments. The data is then peer-reviewed and presented to the SSC. Afterwards, the SSC interprets the data and makes an acceptable biological catch (ABC) recommendation to the Council. The Council has the final say on the catch limit, but it may not exceed the ABC recommendation that was set forth by the SSC.

The interactions between the Council and the SSC are what create fishing policies in the U.S. However, these interactions are often times very bitter and it is easy to see why. The SSC tends to be very conservative. They are scientists and they want to conserve the fish. On the contrary, the Council is largely made up of fishermen and they want the SSC to raise the ABC recommendation so that more fish can be caught and sold.

The Council and the SSC really do have a love-hate relationship. They love each other because they help each other in policy-making but they also hate each other for their disagreements on the catch limit. It’s already a better love (or hate) story than Twilight and this is just one of the many challenges that U.S. fisheries face.

As students studying fisheries management in the U.S. and how this might impact lionfish invasions, we were fortunate enough to have a Skype call with Scott Crosson, an expert in this field. Scott Crosson is a National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) economist and is also a member of the SSC.

Dr. Crosson explained to us how stock assessments are made from fishery-dependent and fishery-independent data. Fishery-dependent data is obtained through recorded landings from commercial fishermen and recreational anglers. On the other hand, fishery-independent data is often collected by NOAA boats that capture and record samples of fish species. Both forms of data collection are used in forming stock estimates.

However, in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), there is no data from recreational fishers. Absence of data will make stock estimates less accurate. Furthermore, fishermen in the USVI sell their own catch. Dr. Crosson estimates that 50% of U.S. Caribbean fishermen do not turn in government-required forms that state what type of fish they are catching and how many. In addition, lionfish are not a main food source and so are not usually harvested. Therefore, stock estimates of lionfish may be inaccurate.

And thus, by looking at lionfish invasions from just the fisheries management perspective, we already see many challenges ahead. These are challenges that are not only concerned with lionfish invasions as an environmental problem, but are also concerned with the flaws and imperfections of the USVI fishery system as a whole. In order to solve this problem, multiple perspectives from various disciplines need to be considered. Hopefully, one day, lionfish will be eradicated from the Atlantic reefs.

5/12/2016 – Paige Crowl

Day 3 Blog Post – 5/12/16

Well, it’s day three of the Lionfish in the Caribbean course! So far, we’ve explored some of the complications around this issue and seen how an integrated systems approach helps us to approach them better. We’ve also covered the basics of lionfish biology, how they arrived in the area, and talked about some of the damage they’re doing to the reefs. Now it’s time to dive in to fisheries and fisheries management 101! Get it? Dive in to fisheries? … Alright, no more puns.

Let’s Talk About Fish

We started off today talking about fisheries: who participates in them (harvesting and post-processing), how communities are shaped around them, and the methods and technologies used in them. Fisheries are particularly interesting to study because both a huge commercial factory ship and one person with a hook and line are part of the fisheries system.


Yep, both fishers.

On top of that, there’s such a huge diversity in fishers themselves: people can fish to feed themselves (subsistence fishers), as a cultural practice (which may also be for subsistence, but doesn’t have to be), just for the joy of fishing (recreational fishers), or to catch fish for sale (commercial fishers). Of course, these categories can overlap in a number of ways or be broken down into sub-categories as well. For example, we can look at the difference between large-scale industrial fishers and small-scale commercial fishers (sometimes called artisanal fishers). Both catch and sell fish for their livelihood, but small-scale fishers often have a deeper dependence on the fishery, because of fewer job opportunities open to them. This is important to remember when looking at the motivations of people involved in the fisheries system.

There is also a huge diversity in the equipment fishers use, depending what they’re fishing for, what they have access to, and what they can afford. Some very common fishing techniques mostly associated with the large-scale industrial fisheries are trawls and seines. A trawl net is dragged behind the boat, collecting fish as the boat travels along, and can be positioned along the bottom of the ocean floor or midwater depending what species the boat is aiming for. A seine is also dragged behind a boat, but instead of flowing out behind it like a butterfly net, it is dropped vertically into the water in a huge circle. When the boat has completely surrounded the fish it wishes to catch, the fishers simply close the circle like it’s a purse and hoist the caught fish up.

trawl netseine purse

A trawl net and a purse seine. Good thing fishers love informative diagrams.

As you can probably imagine, both of these techniques generate a lot of bycatch, which is the term for everything the fishers catch that they weren’t really aiming for. Bycatch has gotten a lot of bad press in recent years – you’ve probably heard about sea turtles getting caught in trawl nets and dolphins getting swept up in purse seines. Bycatch can also be a problem when immature or juvenile fish get caught up with the rest of the catch. After all, one of the big goals of management is to make sure the fish population persists into the future, and if the fish don’t reach maturity and reproduce before they are caught, that puts a big hole in our future plans! Fortunately, a lot of innovative fishers and scientists are developing more and more ways to prevent bycatch (i.e. turtle excluder devices, or TEDs, and monitoring techniques for dolphin-safe tuna). Nets are being made with mesh panels through which smaller fish can escape as well. These are good advances, but it’s important to remember that with these broad, sweeping fishing techniques, avoiding bycatch completely is to a large extent impossible.

turtle excluder

Rest easy, turtles. We’re looking out for you. Then maybe you can check out some good TEDTalks.

Fishing for Forever

Next we moved on to management: a hugely important issue when it comes to fish stocks! Like many other sustainability efforts, sustainable fish stock management sets out to figure out how much fishing can take place while ensuring that fishing prospect will not suffer in future years. There are a lot of complicated interlocking pieces to this, and management can be approached from numerous angles. You can regulate how much time or how many days people spend out on the water fishing in a season, you can regulate how many fish of a species can be caught in one season, or you can regulate what kind of equipment people use to fish with. These methods and more can all be explored in much greater depth, but I don’t want this blog post to go on forever! Instead, I’ll just discuss one angle from which people approach management, one which we can apply to the lionfish problem at hand: appropriate effort.


This is a Gordon-Schaefer curve! Don’t panic, it’s not as complicated as it looks. We’re simply using it to represent some of the ways a fishery can be managed. On the x-axis you can see the “Effective Fishing Effort”, which is simply how much you’re putting into a fishery: capital, time, labor, boat parts, etc. On the y-axis you can see the “Sustainable Yield or Revenue”, which is what you’re getting out of the fishery: fish, profits, etc. It makes sense that the revenue curve moves in an arc, then. You put in your money and time and leave with fish that you can sell for profit. But as fish get scarcer, it becomes more difficult to find them, and it takes more time and work to find fewer and fewer fish. At some point, you begin to put in more effort and money than the fish you’re going to catch are worth. This wastes your money and decimates the fish stocks, a big no-no all around. So there must be an ideal point at which to stop fishing! What this point is, though, depends what you’re trying to get the most of.

  • The Maximum Economic Yield (MEY): This is the point at which profits are maximized. If you put this much effort into the fishery, you get the most bang for your buck. Costs are low, the fish were pretty easy to find, and you left a good amount of them behind for next year. At this level of effort, you can maintain this level of profit year after year.
  • The Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY): This is the point at which the catch is maximized, and enough fish were left behind to reproduce that theoretically you can catch the exact same amount next year. This sounds great, right? Of course, though we can make well-informed hypotheses based on history and fish biology as to what level of effort (and number of fish caught) this point is, we can never be 100% sure. There’s always the chance that we overestimate or underestimate the breeding capability of a species and end up with a lot more or fewer than we expected to in a few years. A small mistake can ruin a fishery or decimate a stock to the point in which it takes decades to recover, or never manages to. But if you set a good catch limit, you can get a lot of fish moving out to hungry consumers in a very sustainable way, and protect your valuable fish stocks for the future. As you might be able to guess, most fisheries today are managed with the goal of MSY in mind.
  • Open-Access Equilibrium: This is the point at which the fishing effort is maximized, maximizing fishing employment. Since revenues equal costs, there is no profit being generated on the fishery as a whole (this is not to say that individual fishers wouldn’t make money, by the way).


The Trouble with Lionfish

So how does all this fit in with the lionfish issue plaguing the Caribbean today? Well, quite well, actually. Establishing a fishery could be a great solution to the massive lionfish invasion we’re facing.

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If you think Captain Kirk looks miffed now, just wait until he sees the reproductive nightmare behind him.

As I’m sure you’ll recall from yesterday’s post, lionfish have multiplied at an astounding rate in the Caribbean. A single fish can reproduce every 3-4 days! If this doesn’t terrify and disturb you, take a second and think about it again. These fast-replicating fish have spread from South Florida to almost every island in the Caribbean in just 30 years.

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Lionfish: more terrifying than White Walkers? You decide.

Remember that idea of Maximum Sustainable Yield we discussed? We were assuming that we wanted to maintain a stock for fishers to draw from well into the future, and when that limit was accidentally or deliberately crossed, it could spell disaster for the fishery. But the one advantage that lionfish have over other fish here is that they seem to reproduce constantly. It seems that we can draw from this stock a great deal before we will come even close to exhausting it. But the good news is that even if we do manage to exhaust the lionfish resource in the Caribbean, the problem is solved anyway! Establishing a fishery could be the solution we’re looking for. If nothing else, it’s a good way to put a dent in their population.


Smeagol’s got the right idea – catch and eat that juicy sweet lionfish!


Oh, maybe not quite like that, Smeagol. We were thinking more like this:

tasty lionfish

Yum yum!

5/11/2016 – Jason Boss

After an energy-filled introduction with the NASA “Gangham Style parody,” “NASA Johnson Style”

the class jumped right into the inconsistencies of the USGS volunteer reported sightings of lionfish.  It became clear that political and sociological factors are probably contributing to inaccuracies in the information provided.  For example, the first sightings of lionfish were off the coast of Florida, and since then they have sprung up in Jamaica, but reported sightings of them in intervening Cuba are rather sparse.  Although we did not know it at the time, the video shown later in class dealt with lionfish in the Yucatan Peninsula, but the USGS site showed very few reported sightings there on the website.

Behavioral change

In addressing our reading, INVASIVE LIONFISH A Guide to Control and Management, edited by James A. Morris, Jr., we discussed some of the biological characteristics of Lionfish.  Specifically the extreme population density exhibited in Atlantic and the behavioral changes the lionfish exhibit (greater reproduction and aggressiveness).  A possible explanation for the increased reproduction rate concerned whether it is simply normal behavior to have greater reproduction in a relatively safe environment with plentiful food.  The change in aggression, however, seems odd and leaves me thinking more details are necessary to arrive at a reasonable suggestion for this change.


A request has been issued for an image of Gollum (who is actually Smeagol) smashing a lionfish on a rock.  I cannot be certain but it almost appears as though Gollum has become our groups’ mascot.  What next? T-shirts?

Extent of the Lionfish Problem

The problem has been broken down into four critical areas:

1) Ecological: A compounding stressor on reefs along the US East Coast, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Northern South America.

Lionfish eat the fish that control algae, which in turn allows the algae to grow unchecked in the reefs, shifting it to an algal-dominated state.  This, in turn, weakens the reefs.  Adding this stressor (in addition to rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, pollution, overfishing, and other climate-change related reef stressors) contributes to coral bleaching and the eventual death of reefs.

2) Ecological: Lionfish voracious appetite and overcompetition significantly reduces the types and population sizes of other fish

By reducing the variety of species and quantity of surviving species the lionfish reduces the biodiversity in the surrounding area.  This in turn makes that environment less capable of recovering from negative impacts, such as algal dominance in the reefs.

3) Economic: Lionfish reduce the quantity of valuable fish through outcompeting or directly preying on other fish.  Consequently fishermen have less quarry to gather, having a negative impact on potential catches, and eventually creating a shortage of desirable fish.

4) Economic: Lionfish is a venomous fish and can make areas where tourists would swim or engage in other water activities dangerous.  Further, killing reefs and reducing the number of other fish can diminish the beauty of tourist destinations.  Both of these can negatively affect the income brought in by tourism.

Venomous vs. Poisonous

Some confusion about the venomous and poisonous nature of lionfish has cropped up over the course of their invasion.  Lionfish are venomous creatures; their spines carry poison that will effect you if they pierce the skin.  This poison has been described as painful, potentially causing paralysis, but in general is not extremely serious.  They are not naturally poisonous and can be eaten if prepared properly.  Early attempts to educate Latin American countries used confusing language that may hamper future attempts to educate people in those countries about the potential to eat lionfish.

Further complicating the issue is the fact that lionfish that eat and live in some reefs bioaccumulate a neurotoxin called siguatera, which does make them poisonous to humans.

Additionally, the bad reputation gained with this accumulated toxicity has been misrepresented, presenting the lionfish as a potential vector for Siguatera disease, but grouper and other predatory fish that would bioaccumulate the same neurotoxin are said to cause “fish poisoning,” yet these problems are actually the same, as the “fish poisoning” is the effect of Siguatera.

The Scourge of the Lion Fish

In the educational video, an overview of the lionfish problem and possible solutions are presented.  The three example solutions are first a determined removal, with an expected repeat every three months, then a regular contest (called a derby) to see what fisherman could catch the most and the largest lionfish, and finally a profit-based fishing effort.

The derby appeared to have some efficacy with an added advantage that the event could be tied into tourism, potentially creating a positive economic affect.  Unfortunately, such contests require a funding source and are unlikely to draw in commercial fisherman.

The profit-based fishing effort involved local fisherman using spearfishing techniques to hunt lionfish, selling to distributers, which then eventually makes its way into restaurants.  It is presented as wildly successful at both control and making a profit.  But, the rosy picture presented by the video belies at least one glaring flaw.

The video suggests no genuine problems with any of the removal methods.  While it addresses the issues of venom safety in the gathering process and removal in the preparation process, it does not speak to known issues with Siguatera, a serious concern for consumption of the fish.  The message of the video is so positive it could be argued that it strays from its role as educational into the realm of propaganda.

05/10/2016 – Jason Boss

In the initial meeting of ENVS 385 – Lionfish in the Caribbean, the students were introduced to each other, the nature of the study we will participate in, core concepts surrounding the issue, and our main question, which is how to make harvesting Lionfish a profitable endeavor.  We had a visit from a representative of Emory’s IRB office, who described the process for certifying a study to confirm that it is ethical in application and discussed our first reading, the first chapter of Sustainable Fishery Systems by Anthony T. Charles and an AJC article about Lionfish.

The Charles reading provided a framework to describe how to think about the categories and various inputs and outputs from and to a fishery.

Further Questions

Our final activity for the day was to address what questions we would need answers to, to better understand how to achieve profitable Lionfish harvest.  They are were as follows:

* How many boats/fisherman?
* Inshore or offshore [This ties in with spacial scale]
* Species fished
->Price sold
* Fishing methods
* Current Management (This can be broken down into a larger list)
* How are the fishermen organized?
->Individual groups
->Dependence on fishing?
* Who are consumers
->Local vs. export
* State of natural system
* View of species
* Spatial scale [This ties in with inshore/offshore]
* Historical context
* Infrastructure
* Perception of fish market
->internal vs. external
* Supply chain?
* Social/economic environment
* Ecosystems/Stressors
* Bathyometry
* Consumers
->How much eaten?
->Willingness to pay (WTP)?
->Proportions of fish consumed? (types of fish)
* Difference between tourist consumption and locals?
* Effort to prepare fish?
* Lionfish
Reproduction -> population dynamics
Danger -> actual & perceived
Yield rate?
* Food safety
Ciguatera/fish poisoning

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Also, Dr. Yandle suggested we prepare questions for Scott who will have a teleconference with us via Skype on Friday.