Nearly 30 years after the first lionfish was spotted off South Florida, the venomous, ravenous invasive species has spread at an alarming rate.
Along the way, the predators are wreaking havoc on delicate reefs off Florida, the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean and even parts of South America.
“They eat anything that fits in their mouths. They reproduce copiously and adapt effortlessly. And they have become as ubiquitous and pesky as rats — only prettier and more conniving,” reads a new science report by The New York Times.
“Eradication is not on the table, but local control has proven to be very effective,” Lad Akins, special projects director for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, a grassroots organization helping to curb the proliferation of lionfish, told the Times. “They are what many people call a near-perfect invader.”
In the last few months, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to ban the importing of lionfish and breeding the fish in the state. The fact that a fishing license requirement was lifted when it comes to lionfish speaks volumes about the issue at hand.