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LIONFISH CONTROL (PHOTO BY ROBERT ALVAREZ)  
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Lionfish Control

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The Puntacana Ecological Foundation began its Lionfish Control Program in 2011 through the commercialization and consumption of this invasive species in the restaurants of Puntacana Resort & Club. The Foundation’s program follows the scientific oversight of the Regional Commission for Lion Fish Control formed by the International Institute of Coral Reefs (ICRI), led locally by Reef Check DR. The Foundation purchases lionfish from local fishermen and uses it to prepare special dishes in local restaurants as a means to decrease and control the lionfish population in Punta Cana. The project seeks to create alternative sustainable livelihoods for local fishermen while confronting the threat of the lionfish to Dominican coral reefs.

In 2008, the Lionfish (Pterois miles y P. Volitans) began to populate the reefs of the Dominican Republic. Originally from the indo-pacific, the species was introduced to the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean as a result of the commercial aquarium trade. The lionfish is an invasive species with the capacity to do great damage to the reefs of the Dominican Republic for a variety of reasons:

  • Lionfish adapt to a diversity of habitats, depths, and environmental conditions, including those found in the Caribbean.

  • Lionfish do not possess natural predators in the Caribbean to control their population.

  • Lionfish feed voraciously on native reef fish in the Caribbean. It can consume as many as 20 native fish in a half hour and reduce the local biodiversity by as much as 80%. Not only does it compete with local species for available food, it eliminates various species of commercial value, including grouper and lobster.

Despite having venomous spines, the lionfish has a delicious white meat and can be safely prepared as filets without any danger of consuming the venom. Local consumption of lionfish is considered the most effective means for controlling its population.

 
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PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation, Dominican Republic
Tel: (809) 959-9221 - Fax (809) 959-8483
www.puntacana.org