In a special press conference, Curaçao Health Minister Jacinta Constancia announced the urgent need to reduce the number of lionfish currently spotted in the surrounding waters. To achieve this, 100 hundred mini-harpoons will be imported from the United States.
The mini-harpoons will be distributed among a group of sailors and thirty volunteers from the diving industry specifically for the purpose of fishing lionfish. All volunteers will be a trained. Constancia explained that the Marines will mainly focus on the hard to reach places where the lionfish have invaded, such as the north of the island, and volunteers will go to work in Caracas Bay and Boca Sami. The harpoons are specifically made for lionfish hunting. Common harpoons are detrimental to the reef, but these mini-harpoons are not.
The minister is working to reduce the lionfish population with the help of the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Services (LVV) and Medio Ambiente Carmabi, an environmental organization where Mark Vermeij is as a marine biologist. Vermeij has worked there since October 2009 and has been engaged in the destruction of the lionfish, since the invasion was first reported in Curaçao. He explains that the current situation was unsustainable since the number of lionfish has increased dramatically.
Besides using the mini-harpoons other, more natural, methods will be employed. Vermeij says that, contrary to popular belief, the lionfish indeed has natural enemies. One of those enemies is the grouper, which lives around the island of Curaçao but whose numbers have declined greatly due to over-fishing. He explains, “The plan would be to recover those groupers on the island by establishing no-fishing zones; the numbers may rise again and the lionfish will be less likely to thrive. Such a solution was also successfully applied in Belize.” Since it will take a few years before the grouper population increases again, until then, catching the lionfish will be the best method.
For full article (in Papiamento), see http://www.rnw.nl/papiaments/article/speshel-di-wikent-harpun-den-lucha-kontra-lionfish-na-korsou