Community lionfish response is comprised of Fishermen, Dive Operations, recreational marine users and spearfishermen. This part of the marine community comprise an important part of the solution. Their participation in either reporting sightings or extracting invasive lionfish is essential to Community Lionfish Response. Without these important resources in this campaign, it would be very difficult to have any lasting impact.
Fishermen are at the front line of invasive species management and are a significant and essential role in response. Some fishermen in the U.S.V.I. pull up 100,000+ Lionfish per year. Lionfish that make it past the fishermen move into the second and third lines of defense. Dive Operators, spearfishermen and recreational marine users make up the second line of defense, while C.O.R.E. (as third line of defense) focuses on reported sightings, areas least used and of high frequency or density. Although each group is important, success relies on all groups working together.
From 2009 till 2012, C.O.R.E. fully funded many C.O.R.E. sanctioned community lionfish response dives throughout the U.S.V.I. territory. Due to lack of funding and continued efforts to expand programming, the Dive Community stepped up. The donation of their vessels, crew and time have been essential in continuing to educate local divers and the thousands of tourists that visit each year.
Dive operations would often heavily discount their morning or afternoon charter for special Community Lionfish Response dives to areas unfrequented or on the fringes of popular dive sites. These partnerships has been very important to public awareness and continued participation.
USVI Fishermen Response
Thousands of edible invasive lionfish are caught yearly from local fishermen in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Fishermen throughout the USVI have made profitable livings for generations due to the trust in the community of providing safe fish. Multiple generations of fishermen have been successful due to their knowledge of safe fishing. It is this knowledge that has built a strong fishing community throughout the USVI.
Topography and jurisdiction has dictated fishing methods and efforts for fishermen of the USVI. Each island has different fishing styles that supply fish to the community. In St. Thomas, trap fishing is the mainstay and is very effective in extracting lionfish. St. John is largely US National park so therefore has a smaller fishing community to effect their waters. St. Croix is unique from both STT and STJ in underwater topography. This has changed the type of commercial fishing that is prevalent. St. Croix is unique from the rest of the U. S. Virgin Islands because of the sheer drop of the topography. The drop-offs cause traps to be less effective, which encourages more commercial spearfishing in St. Croix.
USVI Dive Operation Response
Many dive operations have participated in C.O.R.E. funded Community Lionfish Response Dives. Some have organized their own Community Lionfish Dives. The dive community at large has been another essential tool with sighting information and extractions, but more importantly, education.
Each year, every dive operation has thousands of tourists from all over the world visit to experience the Caribbean. These passionate operators have increased awareness by educating their international as well as stateside clients of the invasive lionfish's impact and what is being done in the USVI. These Dive Operations carry C.O.R.E. Lionfish ID Cards on their dive equipment to increase awareness and to provide their clients with identification material.
Community Marine User Response
Members of the USVI community are very active in the marine environment. Whether it be recreational sports, fishing or just plain relaxing. Our islands provide something for everyone. Locals as well as tourists take part in water activities year round. Their participation has been very helpful with sightings as well as extractions.
Thousands of people a year snorkel and dive in the USVI. They have all been helpful with the Caribbean Lionfish Response Program. 70% of the sightings that come in to the Caribbean Lionfish Response Network have been from marine users outside of the C.O.R.E. Foundation's CLRP. It is because of the continued awareness and educational materials that outsiders utilize the network.
The sightings that are reported to the Caribbean Lionfish Response Sighting Network are accessible by all responders and those outside of the organization. This maximizes response effectiveness as well as response time. These data reported from sightings and extraction have been helpful for the program, the environment and the community.
The C.O.R.E. Foundation 2608 Fish Bay St. John, VI 00830 1-833-774-CORE (2673)
C.O.R.E. EEinSC The C.O.R.E. Foundation 2860 Maybank Hwy #414 Johns Island, S.C. 29457-0414 (843) 822-0530
The Caribbean Oceanic Restoration and Education Foundation is a nonprofit, tax exempt charitable organization (tax identification number 66-0764897) under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.