Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An interesting solution to an invasive species problem

Invasive species can cause serious harm to ecosystems, often out-competing native species.

The economic and biological damage can be significant.

Invasive species can be considered biological pollution and as such we can use externality theory to frame and study the issue. When we get to the topic of solutions, we can also consider addressing invasive species with standards and incentives.

Here's a short article from ENN regarding lion fish and a cool solution ... eat them! I've never eaten lion fish myself (I had one in an aquarium when I was in college), but a student that I had in the Caribbean tells me they're delicious.

Other examples? Other notable solutions?


Rita Russ said...

Eating Lionfish sounds like a good idea and other countries have started having tournaments with prizes to encourage the fishermen. Maybe the US should start having Lionfish Tournaments....they could call them Tame the Lionfish tournaments...BUT, seriously, what do you do about invasive species that are NOT edible? The Snakehead Fish, for example, is considered food in some Asian countries, but I wouldn't eat one...could we encourage people to catch Snakeheads and sell them in Asian food markets here in the US? or would that cause a market for an invasive species, which in turn could cause it to become more prolific?

Alexis M. said...

I really can't think of any other solutions besides catching the Lion Fish, as recreational activities or to catch and eat them. Another invasive species are Mussels in the west. A solution to control Mussels would be to simply remove them, which I think would be much easier than fishing for Lion Fish, but can be costly. I think the best solution to invasive species problems would be to prevent the introduction of the new species in the first place. For example, to help prevent marine invasive species, you could wash all your fishing gear before using it in another body of water to help stop the transportation of species to new areas.

Rita Russ said...

Speaking of invasive species....the following excerpt is from a National Wildlife Federation E-mail that I just received...(I know that the e-mail is a plead for donations, but I thought that the content was relevant to this discussion.) Please NOTE: This is NOT a request from me for donations to the National Wildlife Federation!!

"There are ravenous monsters at the gates of the Great Lakes.

They’re called Asian carp — an invasive species that can grow up to four feet long, weigh up to 100 pounds and eat up to 40% of their body weight every single day. Their massive size, rapid reproduction rates and greedy appetites make it easy for them to deplete the food supply of native fish. This makes them a deadly threat to much of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Without immediate action, Asian carp will find a way into the Great Lakes. The ecological and economic impacts would be devastating. Native fish like lake trout, walleye, smallmouth bass and other species won’t stand a chance competing for food. And the region’s $23 billion fishing and recreational boating industries will severely suffer if this happens.

National Wildlife Federation has a four-pronged solution to keep the Asian carp at bay:

1.Impede Asian carp movement through
the Chicago waterway system, so that they
cannot establish breeding populations in
Lake Michigan.
2.Pressure government agents to stop the flooding of rivers that seed the Chicago waterway system with invasive fish.
3.Prevent flooding in the Wabash River, which contains Asian carp, from washing into tributaries that lead into Lake Erie.
4.Create a permanent barrier to prevent invasive species from infiltrating the Great Lakes."

You can watch the video at the following location:


Once again, I thought this information was relevant to the discussion, but it is NOT a request from me for you to join or donate to any cause or concern!

Amanda K. said...

In looking at this issue in terms of the externality theory, the third party is probably the grouper and snapper fishermen who rely on these species as a source of income. Lion fish compete with these native species for food, thus making it harder for the grouper and snapper to survive. At first glance this may seem to present a economic problem for the fishermen, however, lion fish are (apparently) delicious. The economic gains from the lion fish may just balance out the economic losses from the lack of grouper and snapper.
I agree with Alexis when she says that the best solution for invasive species is prevention. An example of a species that is avoided through preventative methods is an algae called milfoil. A few summers ago in Maine, every boat being launched into any lake or pond in the state was inspected before it was allowed into the water. Though the efforts were not 100% effective, the inspections did help in preventing more serious issues from the invasive algae.

Filorux said...

Back home in Bloomington, Indiana, and a number of years ago, there was a large stink raised about the contamination of Lake Lemon. Lake Lemon was originally the reservoir for the area until the area boomed and a larger one was needed. See http://msdadmin.scican.net/lakelemon1/ for more information. After Lake Monroe was "built" Lemon became primarily recreational. Unfortunately I could not find anything pertaining to my story at the above link, so I'm will be working entirely from memory here...which means I will have to be brief. I had a number of friends who were into canoeing, and they were upset at the invasion of a particular plant at the lake. I don't remember the name of the plant, but it is basically one that grew from the bottom of the lake, and grew quite tall. It pretty much took over the lake, and became quite an eyesore, and I imagine that this is the least of the damage it did. As it turns out, this particular plant is a popular aquarium plant, and according to the newspaper the prevailing theory was that as people had emptied their aquariums for cleaning or what-have-you, the plant or its seed had gotten into the water supply, eventually running off into Lake Lemon.

I remember quite well a weekend I spent working for a landowner on the bank of Lake Lemon, helping to build a retaining wall. I am sure most everyone has seen a harvester combine at some point in their life, but have you ever seen one floating around a lake? Whoever managed the lake at that point in time had employed a harvester combine "boat" and it was trying to clear out as much of this plant as it could. I remember wondering who was doing more harm, the plant or the boat.

Ryan H

Todd Ebner said...

The eating idea sounds like a great solution to me! My only concern is I am pretty sure lionfish are poisonous? So it might be a good idea to properly learn how to catch and cook the fish first, or leave it to the professionals to cook it for you.

The United Kingdom is actually worried about an invasive species which is quite common around here, the Eastern Grey Squirrel. It was actually introduced to England by accident and has widely taken over as the country along with Wales and Scotland. The Grey Squirrel has displaced most of the native, smaller docile Red Squirrels in England, with nothing to contain the take over. The government and the people have begun to act upon the Greys by any means necessary. The media is promoting ways to catch, kill and eat the squirrel to get the population down. One Brit is quoted saying "squirrels have no fat and the flesh is sweet".
So apparently, eating the problem can be a useful method to getting rid of it.

Todd E

Tanya LaVallee said...

Another example of an invasive species within the US is the Asain carp. I watched a show not too long ago on it where it explained that these fish were brought here from Asia. These fish were naturally like mullet in their skiddish behavior. Each carp has millions of eggs, and since their arrival to the US have been taking over the water ways.

Scientists found that these particular carp had been mutated to be extra skiddish. Therefore even the noise of something as a boat sends the jumping. With there being millions of fish in this particular area (I believe it is the Great Lakes) the uproar of fish is overwhelming.

The area that this show was centered on actually had a contest to see who could catch the most carp. The people there do not even eat the fish; they are a problem and a nusiance to the fisheries and other species.

Helen K said...

Does the Lion Fish have any predators? The only other solution aside from fishing tournaments and eating them would be to introduce a predator in their habitat that could also deplete their population. Some sharks are known to eat Lionfish, but it is definitely not their top choice of grub. Lionfish release venom and toxins to any potential predator which ultimately means they have no predators, besides us.

It is very ironic to hear that we are actually trying to decrease/overfish the amount of a species, and many other invasive species while we are also concerned about almost everyother species going extinct because of overfishing.

Loren Albertson said...

Creating a market for an invasive species (whether for food or other uses) would definitely help to control the population. Creating tournaments, lionfishing trips, etc to encourage the public to remove the lionfish would also help to control the number of lionfish. Even encouraging taxidermy lion fish (which would look cool) would be a great way to help control the population. Creating a market for the lionfish would also help Government fisheries manage the population.

Ryan McKnight said...

When I saw this post, it reminded me of an article I read in my grandparents' local newspaper - the Knoxville Sentinel (the newspaper for the city of Knoxville, TN).

Kudzu, an invasive planet with roots that are impervious to pesticides, had overtaken a local park.

Instead of paying a lawn service to clear the area, the city outsourced the work to goats.

"The surprising results were that the goats could and did clear the area in a much quicker and efficient manner than herbicides and manpower."