Guide to Lionfish Management in the Mediterranean

Guide to Lionfish Management in the Mediterranean

Guide to Lionfish Management in the Mediterranean by University of Plymouth

Read the full document here.

Executive Summary

Lionfish (Pterois miles) are spreading in the fastest fish invasion ever reported in the Mediterranean Sea where they are disrupting ecosystems and have the potential to impact livelihoods. First found in Lebanon in 2012, lionfish quickly became established throughout the eastern Mediterranean and are now spreading west. This management guide is based on lessons learnt during the European Union part-funded RELIONMED project which started in 2017. Local citizen scientists, stakeholders, divers, fishers, researchers and managers worked together to tackle the lionfish threat to conserve biodiversity in priority habitats. This Guide is designed to inform lionfish management in the Mediterranean region, key topics include (1) lionfish removals, (2) development of markets, (3) outreach, (4) research and monitoring, and (5) regional cooperation.

Citation: Kleitou P., Hall-Spencer J.M., Rees S.E., Kletou, D. (2022) Guide to lionfish management in the
Mediterranean. University of Plymouth, 62 pp.

Contributors: Green, S. (ecological eradication model) and Poursanidis D. (species distribution models) and the RELIONMED team: Cai L.L, Chartosia N., Hadjioannou L., Jimenez C., Karonias, T., Michael, C., Nicolaou E., Savva I., Sfenthourakis S. We thank Dr Holden Harris, of University of Florida for improving a draft of this guide.
Guide funding: 60% funded by the EU LIFE programme (LIFE16 NAT/CY/000832), 40% by University of Plymouth.
The Relionmed project…
  • Chapter 1 • Monitored the Mediterranean distribution of lionfish. • Modelled the potential for lionfish to spread.
  • Chapter 2 • Trained divers and fishers to monitor and remove lionfish in priority areas. • Showed that spearfishing with SCUBA can keep lionfish densities below levels that cause ecosystem damage.
  • Chapter 3 • Raised awareness of lionfish as an invasive but edible species. •Introduced lionfish to Cypriot markets and increased its retail price.
  • Chapter 4 • Built social capital in invasive species management which can benefit coastal ecosystems.
  • Chapter 5 • Assessed the local biology of lionfish and their ecological and socio-economic impacts.
  • Chapter 6 • Proposed lionfish for inclusion in the list of invasive species that need management by all EU Member States.
Key Recommendations
  • Target lionfish quickly to reduce the potential for ecological and socio-economic impacts.
  • Rapidly develop opportunities for commercial and recreational fishers to target lionfish.
  • Focus on legal changes needed to allow lionfish removals
  • Create a supply chain for lionfish products.
  • Enthuse public interest with opportunities to see, eat, and take part in activities to manage lionfish.
  • Set thresholds for environmental, economic and social impacts and assess the performance of management activities.
  • Monitor lionfish at sentinel locations.
  • Immediately put lionfish on the agenda for regional cooperation. They need to be included on the EU list of invasive species of concern.
  • Support biosecurity measures in the Suez Canal. 
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