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Lionfish Caught in BVI Waters

Friday, May 28. – Local Fisherman, Willis Barry, has captured the first Lionfish in BVI waters off of the west side of Anegada. The invasive Pacific Lionfish has been a cause for concern throughout the region and this has been the first capture in local waters.

Local Fisherman, Willis Barry, with first Lionfish that he captured in BVI waters off of the west side of Anegada. Photo courtesy of GIS.

Speaking with the Department of Information and Public Relations Chief Conservation and Fisheries Officer, Mr. Bertrand Lettsome said, “This is the first physical sample that has been caught and verified by the Department. There have been several other reports but capture of the Lionfish did not occur. The staff has actively been educating the public on the presence of the Lionfish in our waters and calling for community support in notifying the Department of any areas where they may have been sighted. Mr. Barry’s actions have not only provided us with our first whole Lionfish sample but also gave us specific insight on potential areas to target.”

Also speaking with the Department, Assistant Fisheries Officer Ms. Abbi Christopher said, “The receipt of this specimen is a perfect example of how the process should work. Mr. Barry is a very capable and long standing fisher. Having seen the picture on the flyer and haven been cautioned with the handling practices; when the fish was caught not only did he make contact with his Association President and the Department but he could also proudly told an inquisitive hotel guest about why the fish was being handled so carefully, and to caution her while snorkeling after her initial comment that they should let the pretty fish go.”

Earlier in the year the Conservation and Fisheries Department received a grant of £20,000 from the United Kingdom’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), equivalent to just over US$30,000 to monitor, control, raise awareness of the threat of the Lionfish and combat the invasion of the fish species in the Territory.

On March 4, the Conservation and Fisheries Department confirmed the first Lionfish sighting as discovered by Dive BVI, a private dive company out of Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda. The Lionfish was photographed in 25 feet of water off Ginger Island and since then there has been several more sightings from divers and fishers.

Persons requiring more information about the Lionfish should contact the Conservation and Fisheries Department located on the second floor of the Quatisky building across from the Road Town roundabout or telephone the department at 494-5681, 494-3429, 468-9611 or 468-9678 for more information.

The sourcing and receiving of the funds is part of the Conservation and Fisheries Department’s strategic action plan to combat the invasion by the Indo-Pacific Lionfish. It is the department’s aim to tackle the Lionfish invasion promptly to minimize damage to the marine environment by protecting and preserving the natural inheritance.

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