Sumary of Targeted removals and enhanced monitoring can help manage lionfish in the Mediterranean:
- Targeted removals can be effective in suppressing the number of invasive lionfish found within protected coastlines around the Mediterranean Sea.
- Scientists working as part of the European Union-funded RELIONMED project teamed up with specially trained divers and citizen scientists to conduct a series of removal events and surveys over a six-month period.
- Focussed on three marine protected areas on the coast of Cyprus — the Zenobia shipwreck off Larnaca, and two popular diving sites within the Cape Greco Marine Protected Area — between 35 and 119 lionfish were removed per day by divers at each protected site.
- As a result, scientists writing in the Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems journal, say such initiatives can undoubtedly be effective in reducing population numbers.
- The research was led by researchers at the University of Plymouth (UK) and Marine and Environmental Research (MER) Lab (Cyprus).
- They have been collaborating for several years as part of the €1.6million RELIONMED project, which aims to assess the history of the lionfish invasion in Cyprus, and identify ways to minimise its future impact.
- Periklis Kleitou, Research Assistant on the RELIONMED project and lead author on the study, said: “There are many changes happening within the Mediterranean as a consequence of human activity and climate change.
- Professor of Marine Biology Jason Hall-Spencer, senior author on the current study and one of the core group of scientists that advises the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), said: “This study demonstrates the complex nature of managing and protecting our ocean.