Turks and Caicos to host first annual lionfish festival


A report from Caribbean News Now. Follow the link below to the original report.

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is to host its first annual Lionfish Festival. The Festival, hosted by the Departments of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) and Culture, in conjunction with the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, will be hosted on Providenciales and Grand Turk respectively and will include a REEF-sanctioned Lionfish Derby.

“Although it is a beautiful animal, lionfish are not supposed to be in the wider Caribbean region, but were introduced off the coast of the US and spread down through The Bahamas. Some TCI fishermen have been catching lionfish on a small scale for many years, and they know that, although it’s invasive, lionfish is a very tasty fish. However, these fishers do not typically target lionfish heavily because crawfish, conch, and other finfish are more profitable. So, we hope that the festival results in many lionfish being caught (and eaten), which will give our reefs a helping hand and also raise awareness about this invasive species. Above all we hope the events are fun and that many people from all walks of life come to take part,” said DECR director, Dr John Claydon.

Provo’s Lionfish Festival is slated for October 29 and Grand Turk the following week on November 5, 2016. Fishermen, watersports and dive operators are all encouraged to participate in the derby, which will kick off early in the morning. Family fun will follow with games for the kids, live music, watching of the scoring, free lionfish samples, filleting and dissection demonstrations, and a Q&A session about lionfish.

The lionfish derbies will be a single day competition to collect and remove as many lionfish as possible. Teams will collect lionfish by spearing while free diving or snorkelling. Teams will begin competing at sunrise and will be required to bring their catch to the scoring station by 3:00 pm (South Caicos residents can participate in the Grand Turk Derby and the School for Field Studies will conduct scoring on South Caicos and report it to the organizers on Grand Turk. Each fish will then be measured, and cash prizes are awarded for teams catching the most, biggest, and smallest lionfish.

Not known to have any native predators, lionfish are greedy predators that prey on native fish and crustaceans in large quantities. Invasive predators, such as the lionfish, can pose a major threat to marine fisheries, habitats, and eco-system function. The First Annual Lionfish Festival hopes to draw attention to the Atlantic lionfish invasion and help promote development of the commercial lionfish market.

For the original report go to http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/headline-Turks-and-Caicos-to-host-first-annual-lionfish-festival-31764.html

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