Over the years, the Mediterranean has seen a number of Invasive species from the Indo Pacific making their way from their native homes to the Mediterranean Sea.
The most dangerous of these invaders is the Lionfish and the impact that they can have on the environment they inhabit can be catastrophic.
Lionfish are "Feeders and Breeders". Once mature, they can produce around 2 million eggs per year, which results in a population explosion in areas where they have no natural predators.
Lionfish are ambush predators that feed on the native fishlife here in Cyprus. These fish are naive and don't recognise the Lionfish as predtors, which can make them easy pickings for these skilled hunters. Along the same lines, they are now competitors for the native fish that would usually prey on these smaller fish, which can led to a decline in the native predators and prey.
Since Cyprus seems to be the first Mediterranean Island affected by these Indo-Pacific Invaders, the NGO project, ReLion-Med was established as the first line of defence for the Invasion into our Sea.
Working with this NGO, the Dive Centres and Divers on the Island of Cyprus have been educated about the Lionfish and trained to remove them. Part of the actions undertaken have been controlled removals and Removal Derbys, using the Hawaiian Sling.
As divers, it seeems unnatural to cause harm to any species underwater but the population of Lionfish must be controlled to allow the native species to survive.
To maintain the numbers of Lionfish in Cyprus, the project, Re-Lion Med has been working to create a demand for Lionfish products in Cyprus.
From inviting well known chefs to the Derbys to cook the caught Lionfish to taking samples to restaurants and hotels around Cyprus, the aim is to educate people that Lionfish can be eaten and is, in fact, very easy to prepare. Simply cut off the venemous spines and you can throw it on the BBQ, fry it in oil and lemon juice for your Gyros or fillet it and bake it in foil with Sweet Chilli and Spring Onions. The options are endless.
Another market for Lionfish could be the production of Jewellery and we have a number of items for sale at Scuba Tech for divers to purchase. Made from the soft fins, we have a range of earrings and necklaces. So you can look great and help to save the seas at the same time.
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