Fishing pests causes other problems

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2009, 12:00am

I recently read an article about lionfish. A single fish, introduced into a coral reef where the species isn't native, can reduce the number of other small fish by 80 per cent within a few weeks.

Lionfish are not native in the Caribbean, but they have damaged the biodiversity of the reefs, and affected tourism. Recently, a man who owns a firm called Sea to Table has suggested a solution: eat them.

He is trying to develop an industry to fish for lionfish.

I think this is effective, as it can conserve the natural habitat as well as provide new dishes.

On the other hand, if the lionfish industry really develops, it might lead to the extinction of the species. Since lionfish are near the top of the food chain, their extinction would adversely affect the ecological balance as the population of their prey grew.

If lionfish are to become food, fishing should be limited.

Michael Ying Luk-hin, The Chinese Foundation Secondary School

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Michael. History is full of examples of the terrible disasters man can engineer by interfering with nature. Not only that, but man seems to bring further disaster when trying to cure original disasters. The rabbit plague in Australia is a good example.

You're very wise to think of the potential problems with creating a market for what appears to be a pest. The other problem is that if lionfish were to be priced so as to become a luxury item, more people would want to fish them and the problem would get worse. This kind of effect can be seen in the ivory trade or, indeed, in the trade of cocaine.

These sorts of things are never easy - often there are hidden consequences whether we do or do not act.

Susan, Editor