Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NEW RECORD: 30cm (11.8 inch) Lionfish is the largest of the invasive species officially registered so far in Aruba

Posted by Aruba Daily on July 28th, 2011

Lionfish Tournament of the National Control Plan yielding greater awareness and sounding alarm

A whopper of a Lionfish, 30 centimeters long (almost one foot long, 11.8 inches to be exact) shattered all previously held records in Aruba for the invasive species. The previous record, a Lionfish of 27.5 cm, caught during the first Lionfish Derby held last march by the trio from the boat Xiomara, consisting of John Laurence, Dechi Bisslik and Victor Franken, was broken by this impressive specimen. Last Monday 25th of july 2011, the team of Lifeguards Aruba, led by their captain Canicio v.d. Biezen brought in a footlong Lionfish caught by team member Maikel Hermans, marking the new record. The momentous occasion was officialized by members of the board of the Aruba Marine Park Foundation in person this time as part of the 2011 championship of the National Control Plan. Mr. Rudolf Davelaar and Castro Perez stood witness to historic fact at the Hadicurari Fisheries Center at Palm Beach, where mr. Byron Boekhoudt registers and measures Lionfihs as part of the National Lionfish Control Planta and for scientific interests.

Threat:

Aruba Marine Park Foundation is organizing this championship in its efforts to raise awareness and help control the invasive species that poses a severe threat to the fauna and ecosystems of Aruba and the region. The Pacific Lionfish is an invasive species that is not native to the waters of the Atlantic and the Caribbean that threatens to overtake local species and throw the ecosystem in disarray. The species reproduces rapidly, where each female being capable of producing over 2 million eggs each year. It has a voracious appetite and has been documented capable of eating 20 fish in less than 30 seconds. This combined with the fact that it has no natural predators in these waters and that its prey do not perceive it as a threat yet, it can clear entire areas of fish and other marine organisms as it takes over new territories. This combination, translates into the environmentally desastrous scenario of clear bue seas devoid of other fish and organisms, To top it off, the Lionfish has venemous spines that if stung by these, can cause humans severe pain and other possible complications.

Because of this men, everyone is asked, especially snorkelers, divers, dive operators and fishermen, to actively contribute to eliminate these fish as soon as they are detected in our waters. Just last March the First Lionfish derby succesfully help raise awareness and help eliminate a large number of these invadors but the effort must be ongoing.

Lionfish continue to spread as predicted and more and more people, including visitors, will be running into these beautiful but troublesome fish. It is important that especially dive instructors and divemasters of the many dive operators help in this effort to both educate and help control the Lionfish. By keeping divesites clear of this pest, we can create sanctuaries for native species to recover and repopulate affected areas.

As an incentive the Aruba Marine Park Foundation, a not for profit non governmental organisation with the goal to promote protection of marine life through the implementation of Marine Park legislation and management tools, is offering the 2011 Lionfish Championship.

TOURNAMENT WITH ATTRACTIVE PRIZES:

Just like the Derby, the championship aims only on Lionfish and the winners in different categories will be rewarded with very attractive tropies and prizes. The Lionfish Championship is based on a point system for each Lionfish eliminated and officially measured. At the end of the season, points can also be exchanged for Lionfish merchandize such as T-shirts and other accessories. For each Lionfish brought in, the participant gets 1 point and a fraction according to the size. This way all participants have good reason, besides helping the environment, to take the fish to the fisheries center where the Lionfish will be measured, registered and unless the participant specifically want it, used for scientific purposes or filleted for the next cook out events. For more information one can check out the Aruba Marine Parke Foundation (organisation) page at facebook.com/ArubaMarinePark or by writing to arubamarinepark@gmail.com.