Volume 72

Development of a Trap to Catch the Invasive Lionfish (Pterois spp.)

Hutchinson, E; S. Hagedorn; J. Butler; C. Sweetman; T.R. Matthews
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Date: November, 2019

Pages: 274-277

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Two Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Punta Cana

Country: Dominican Republic


In the southeastern United States and Caribbean, lionfish are highly invasive and have detrimental impacts on native ecosystems due to their generalist feeding behavior, high consumption rates, high reproductive output and lack of predators. Recreational divers and snorkelers have been encouraged to harvest lionfish using spears and hand-held nets to manage their population. Lionfish removal has generally occurred in waters less than 30 m in depth, where they are easily accessible to divers. However, lionfish can be found in waters hundreds of meters deep. In Florida, spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) commercial fisherman have caught lionfish in both wood and wire traps, with most of that catch occurring in the latter. The goal of this project was to maximize lionfish catch while reducing bycatch through modifications of wire spiny lobster traps in deeper water ranging from 30-100 meters, where diver access is limited. Modifications of throat type, throat location, bait type and incorporation of escape gaps were evaluated throughout the duration of the study to achieve the previously stated goal. Bycatch reduction is a relevant consideration in trap design for Florida and other regions where fish traps are illegal or reef fish populations are fully exploited. Adding escape gaps significantly reduced bycatch of other fish species and using live lionfish as bait both lowered bycatch and significantly increased the catch of lionfish. The most effective trap designs will be tested by commercial fishermen to evaluate trap utility at a larger geographic scale and over a broader range of habitats and depths.

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