Today’s Editorial for May 12: Eat lionfish out of existence

It’s time to sweat the small stuff.

While the Cayman Islands is faced
with monumental issues with the economy, there is a small menace lurking in our
waters.

Invasive lionfish are threatening
our very way of life from fishing to tourism.

The Department of Environment has
been taking the menace seriously and is now appealing to residents in each
district to help take up the fight.

Scientists
believe the Volitans lionfish, Pterois volitans, entered the Atlantic when
Hurricane Andrew cracked open a private oceanside aquarium in Miami in 1992
where six fish escaped into the bay.

The
descendents of those fish infested the Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic and
the Antilles, following the path of the Caribbean’s clockwise current and
arriving off Mexico’s Caribbean coast early last year.

Now
they are here and are wreaking havoc.

Scientists
believe a single lionfish can wipe out a patch of a reef in only five weeks.

That’s
the bad news.

The
good news is that they are edible.

The
Cayman Islands Department of Environment and licensed cullers have already
removed more than 1,500 of the invasive fish from our waters, but even the
efforts of the 350 people eligible to kill the fish aren’t enough to eradicate
the species.

Now
DoE is looking for more people to help in the fight.

Meetings
will be held in each of the districts beginning Saturday at East End and
continue through 26 June in other districts.

The
DoE is looking for divers, swimmers, snorkellers, fishermen and women – anyone
concerned about the Cayman Islands the well-being of our precious reefs to
attend the meetings and lend a hand.

The
goal is quite simple – to remove as many lionfish as possible so they will quit
eating our fish and to give our fish time to adapt to this invasive species so
they won’t get eaten.

Scientists
have observed one lionfish eating 20 small fish is less than 30 minutes.

That’s scary.

Let’s join the DoE in its quest to
get rid of these pesky fish and get the cooking pan ready. For a recipe, see
Page 6 of today’s Compass.

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