Lionfish have no natural predators in Bermuda and feed freely on our juvenile fish. *File photo by Linda Turrentine
Lionfish have no natural predators in Bermuda and feed freely on our juvenile fish. *File photo by Linda Turrentine
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SUNDAY, JULY 22: The third annual Eat 'Em to Beat 'Em Lionfish Tournament was hailed a success as 32 of the invasive fish were caught during yesterday’s event.

This compares to four fish caught at the first tournament two years ago.

Some 29 of the day’s catch were caught by the tournament winners the Ocean Support Foundation, which deployed two teams of technical divers to enter the deep waters where lionfish appear to be found in larger numbers. Their boat was just a mile off Tucker’s Point Hotel.

The Ocean Support Foundation also won prizes for smallest and largest fish caught at 7ins and just over 18ins respectively.

In third place was Tim Noyes of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) with a 15-inch fish. Second place went to Sergey Goncharov who caught a 13-inch fish and a 15-inch fish.

The tournament aims to raise awareness of the threat of lionfish in Bermuda, where they have no natural predators and feed freely on our juvenile fish. By keeping their numbers down we will be protecting our own fish species and, in turn, our coral reefs, say environmentalists. 

Matthew Strong of the environmental charity Groundswell, which organizes the tournament, said: “Our job is to raise awareness of environmental issues and we feel the most important now is the lionfish invasion.”

He gave credit to the “soldiers in the field” — the Ocean Support Foundation led by Triangle Diving’s Graham Maddocks, which is leading research into the habitats and behaviours of lionfish and the best methods to catch them.

As well as raising awareness of the lionfish invasion in Bermuda’s waters, the tournament aims to raise awareness of lionfish as a healthy food option.

The tournament was followed by a weigh-in and after party at BIOS with music and samples of the day's catch served up by chef Chris Malpas.

Battered fried lionfish with a curried mango sauce was on the menu along with lionfish cakes.

For more information about the lionfish invasion visit www.reefspect.comwww.oceansupport.org,  or reefspect@groups.facebook.com.