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CFD Confirms Lionfish Sighting

Friday, March 5 – The Conservation and Fisheries Department has confirmed the first official sighting of an Indo-Pacific Lionfish in the Territory’s waters.

The confirmation was made Thursday night when Dive BVI, a private dive company, out of Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda sighted and photographed an Indo-Pacific Lionfish in 25 feet of water off Ginger Island.

Efforts are now underway by the Conservation and Fisheries Department and local dive operators to capture the invasive species as they pose a threat to the local marine life.

Marine Biologist in the Conservation and Fisheries Department Ms. Shannon Gore explained the danger now posed to marine life by the presence of the lion fish.

 

“Consider this as biological warfare on the fisheries of the Virgin Islands. They will eat just about every fish that is up to two-thirds their body size. This will leave reefs vulnerable to algal overgrowth and mortality. They are also venomous and a potential threat to anyone that tries to handle them,” Ms. Gore said.

The Indo-Pacific Lionfish is native to the Pacific Ocean and was first introduced into the region in the early ‘90s. Since its introduction it has severely impacted the fisheries and marine environments of several other countries in the region. Thus the first sighting in the Territory is a cause for much alarm by local authorities

The Conservation and Fisheries Department is encouraging persons not to approach the fish if they are spotted within the Territory’s waters.

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Persons should instead contact the department to report sightings by telephoning 494-5681, 494-3429, 468-9611 or 468-9678. Additionally any photographs, specific location details, GPS positions or questions may be emailed to [email protected]

In the upcoming weeks the Conservation and Fisheries Department will launch its strategic action plan to combat the invasion by the Indo-Pacific Lionfish. It is the department’s aim to tackle the lion fish invasion promptly to minimise damage to the marine environment.

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