Understanding the Lionfish Invasion in Bonaire to Develop the Best Strategy for Trinidad and Tobago
Lionfish are venomous, predatory reef fish native to the Indo-Pacific region, but have become widely distributed due to its popularity as an aquarium fish. Due to high fecundity, adaptability to non-native habitats and tolerance to large temperature and depth ranges, the lionfish invasion has the potential to become the most detrimental in history. Lionfish were first confirmed in Bonaire on 26th October, 2009. Since then, despite active eradication attempts, they have increased in abundance, occupying habitats at a range of depths. Trinidad and Tobago however have yet to be invaded by lionfish, but the presence of lionfish in aquariums in Trinidad and the availability of suitable prey and habitat, together with confirmed lionfish sightings in neighbouring territories make the lionfish invasion imminent. Questionnaires were conducted with target groups (lionfish-hunters, divers, dive- shops, fishermen and pet-shop owners) in Bonaire and Trinidad and Tobago. These revealed that there was a significant difference in the level of opinions and awareness between the invaded territory (Bonaire) and the un-invaded territory (Trinidad and Tobago). The current lionfish management strategies in Bonaire and the Caribbean were also appraised to suggest the best approach for Trinidad and Tobago in dealing with the future threat of lionfish.