Threat: The invasive Indo-Pacific predator the lionfish has the potential to damage our reef ecosystem as it has done in the Caribbean. *Photo by Chris Burville
Threat: The invasive Indo-Pacific predator the lionfish has the potential to damage our reef ecosystem as it has done in the Caribbean. *Photo by Chris Burville

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4: The Deputy Governor of Bermuda has thrown his support behind the environmental charity tasked with controlling the population of invasive lionfish in Bermuda’s waters.

David Arkley wrote in a letter to the Ocean Support Foundation, following a meeting with the charity in January, that the UK government recognises that the invasion of the species in the Caribbean could lead to the collapse of fisheries in the region.

He went on to say that with that in mind he would support the charity’s ongoing efforts locally.

 “The Deputy Governor’s Office is happy to support the work that the Ocean Support Foundation is undertaking to investigate the extent of the lionfish problem in Bermuda’s waters and to research methods for controlling the population of lionfish where they are most concentrated,” Mr Arkley wrote in his letter.

The office has helped the charity to connect with influential overseas environmental bodies including the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, part of the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The JNCC has donated funding to the tune of $20k towards the British Virgin Islands’ lionfish control project. While the JNCC has said it is currently unable to offer financial assistance in Bermuda, it has expressed an interest in future involvement and is helping the charity to seek financial support from other funding sources. 

Founder and President of the Ocean Support Foundation Graham Maddocks told the Bermuda Sun: “I’m very happy with the letter — it gives our cause even more credibility. It also shows that the UK government has recognised it as being an environmental disaster and that it needs our full attention.

“The British government might not be able to help directly financially at this point but they have put their backing behind us and their hand on our shoulders to tell the world ‘we are right behind you’.”

The charity has also been boosted by the formation of a high profile advisory committee made up of Marsh & McLennan Companies CEO Brian Duperreault, actor Michael Douglas business leaders James Gibbons, Jim Butterfield and Robert Steinhoff and naturalist Judy Clee.

 The Ocean Support Foundation is now poised for its first stage — to create data gathering protocols along with the Aquarium and Department of Fisheries designed to locate lionfish hotspots and get an idea of their numbers. 

Funding is still a priority — so far it has raised $23k and is aiming to raise an extra $600k before initial work starts at the end of April.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Ocean Support Foundation or donating to the charity can do so by visiting www.oceansupport.org or by calling 704-5406.