St. Maarten’s Nature Foundation urges all ocean users and the community in general to start recording their sighting of the dangerous and invasive lionfish online at www.lionfishcontrol.org. This is a means of monitoring and controlling this species.
A new web-based and mobile-device-friendly application developed by Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance has recently been updated and expanded to St. Maarten after piloting on Bonaire where over 10,000 records have been entered in an effort to improve control of lionfish.
Lionfish hunters and ocean-going public can record their observations and lionfish captures in an easy-to-understand and informative way. In combination with additional research, the information provided by these “citizen scientists” gives unprecedented insight into lionfish distribution and success of removal efforts.
Since the early 1990s, the rapid spread of the invasive lionfish has been an increasing problem for the Caribbean region, as the exotic and voracious predator eats its way through native fish communities. On a number of Caribbean islands, lionfish control programmes were set in motion, often with a volunteer (fishing) component.
For the last years, Nature Foundation has been systematically researching and controlling the lionfish population on St. Maarten. Research has shown that through the efforts of the sea-going community the Nature Foundation was able to implement successful control measures limiting the impact of lionfish in the territorial waters of St. Maarten.
Recently sharks have also been playing a large role in the control of the species. Through efforts spearheaded by Nature Foundation, sharks are protected on St. Maarten and have now started to prey on the invasive lionfish.