Establishing partnerships for the Control of  Lionfish Population in the Eastern Caribbean region (2015-2017)

The invasive venomous Pterios volitans (Red Lionfish) is a well-established species in many parts of the Caribbean Sea and Western Atlantic Ocean. It currently poses as a serious threat to the existing reef fish biodiversity in the Ceribbean which can negatively impact the trophic dynamics by altering the structure of native fish communities. Thus the present study aimed to develop a suitability model for lionfish in Trinidad and Tobago, and conduct outreach activities on awareness and sustentability.

Physico-chemical, food availability and micro habitat structure in situ data, driving factors for lionfish population density, were considered as model inputs. GIS based multi-criteria decision technique was used to develop the lionfish habitat model considering the model inputs.

The awareness about the ecosystem impacts and how the society could contribute to a biological control of this invasive species was delivered successfully in three Caribbean countries. As a result, people are starting to look at the lionfish as a potential food source and many supermarkets have started to sell it stores. Also, the local fish markets are starting to move on toward the lionfish cleaning and sale, however lionfish should be tested for ciguatera and other food borne diseases on a regular basis, especially if the species is being promoted as a food fish. Such testing is to be integrated into the regular sanitary and phytosanitary measures monitoring programmes for fish and fish products in the respective countries as a standard measure.

Participating countries

– Grenada -Trinidad and Tobago -Venezuela

General objectives

  • Characterize spatio-temporal variability of abiotic and biotic parameters in two reef sites with lionfish invasion (Buccoo Reef and Charlottville, Tobago) during the dry and wet seasons;
  • Characterize spatio-temporal variability of abiotic and biotic parameters in two reef sites with lionfish invasion (Buccoo Reef and Charlottville, Tobago) during the dry and wet seasons;- Design models of environmental suitability for lionfish over one reef site with lionfish invasion (Mar-o-war bay, Trinidad and Tobago);
  • To establish successful social awareness among main stakeholders affected by the lionfish invasion through outreach activities in Grenada, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago.

General achievements

  • Acquisition of a water current meter and YSI ProPlus MultiParameter System equipments via NANO funding allowed the characterization of spatio-temporal variability of abiotic and biotic parameters in two reef sites with lionfish invasion (Buccoo Reef and Charlottville, Tobago) during the dry and wet seasons;
  • Suitability of lionfish invasion maps were created for the two reef sites (Buccoo Reef and Charlottville, Tobago);
  • High density reefs were georeferenced in Grenville, Grenada;
  • Several interactions with institutes, fisheries regulating authorities, fishermen, diver experts, coast guard officers, tourist and general public;
  • Outreach campaigns between 2015-2017 targeting fishermen, local divers (free and Scuba), schoolchildren and tourists in three Caribbean countries.

Scientific outputs

Presentations at Scientific Events

  • Mohammed, Shaazia.  Striking a balance with the lionfish: habitat suitability modeling and social awareness measures in the southern Caribbean. Sixth Annual Research Symposium – Sustainable Development, at the University of the West Indies St. Augustine (Trinidad and Tobago), 7th-8th April, 2016.

Societal outputs

  • Grenadian fishermen and Coast Guards officers received training on dive safety (provided by the Grenada Hyperbaric chamber doctors) and culling (i.e., how to shoot and handle lionfish underwater; provided by professional scuba divers);
  • Grenville and Carriacou fishemen association were provided with 25 sets of safety dive and post harvest gears to sustain lionfish hunts;
  • Grenville fishemen association were provided with training on how to handle GPS to map high density reef sites and reef health;
  • Outreach and awareness materials (banners and decals) were developed and used in activities conducted by the project participants and various partners;
  • Lionfish awareness seminars to school children, beach tourists and fisheries division in Grenada and Venezuela;
  • Lionfish tasting for school feeding programme with local partners;
  • Lionfish education boards were awarded to two secondary schools, which will reach more that 1000 students.

Project contributions to NANO News

NN8 – pp. 18

NN10 – pp. 16

Access all NANO News issues here

Coordinator (period)

Shaazia Mohammed (2015-2017)

Advising Scientists

Christine Finney, Eco Dive, Grenada

Jahson Alemu, Institute of Marine Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago

Dr. Ricardo Clarke , The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago


Ana Carolina PeraltaUniversidad Simon BolivarVenezuela
Rajindra MahabirUniversity of the West IndiesTrinidad and Tobago
Rory SarafatUniversity of the West IndiesTrinidad and Tobago
Shaazia MohammedUniversity of the West indiesTrinidad and Tobago
Shazard Ali-ShahUniversity of the West IndiesTrinidad and Tobago
Subrata SarkerShahjalal University of Science and Technology/Bangladesh Bangladesh
Zahidah NisaNANO alumnusGrenada

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