We have previously posted about the growing threat that the Lionfish poses on the Ecosystem in our blog posts 'Lionfish Threaten The Ecosystem Of The Caribbean Sea' and 'Fishing event targets Lionfish'. Even though local professional divers have given special permits upon completion of a specific Department of Environment (DOE) course the population continues to grow despite the dive industry and local resident divers attempts to cull the fish. The Lionfish are both veracious eaters, rapid breeders and with few natural predators the Lionfish were able to establish a breeding population even quicker than normal.
To combat the growing problem a joint collaboration between the DOE and the Marine Conservation Board has lead to a 'unique' PADI Distinctive Speciality, the 'Invasive Lionfish Tracker'. The distinctive speciality is not just about culling off the population though, the one day course covers details of the Lionfish, the reasons behind the population explosion across the North-western Atlantic and Caribbean and explains why actions is required. The course teaches the diver practical ways to safely capture the fish using nets without causing undue stress and incorporates two dives to practice these new skills. Once complete the diver will be issued with a new PADI certification card along side the culling permit. The creation of the 'Invasive Lionfish Tracker' course allows the DOE to recruit much higher numbers of divers to help control the spread of the problem and prevent further damage to the ecosystem, giving valuable time for the other species to recover.