On Thursday, another lionfish was found off Udal Point–that makes 5 found in less than half a year. So far, they have been found west, south and east. So far, individual divers and local fishermen have been doing the finding. Exactly when is our local DPNR and government going to get into the picture?
I have the following suggestions:
1. Make it illegal for any vessel to discharge ballast water into our waters
2. Post wanted posters at all beaches, boat ramps and fish markets identifying lionfish and listing a DPNR contact number.
3. Have our hospitals and emergency responders carry anti-venom for lionfish poison
4. Require the governor to get involved personally in overseeing the government's involvement in eradicating lionfish and a task force headed by DPNR's William Coles with real powers to inspect all the waters of our coast line including waters restricted by federal regulation.
5. Mandate funding in an emergency action fund that requires periodic sweeps of our waters.
In all this there are still opportunities for us to act before it's just too late, but we must demand action be taken now when we have a small window between when the fish get here and went they breed. I called for action when the first fish was found and all that can be done under current funding limits is being done; yet we are averaging one fish find a month under random finds by private individuals. When is our government going to step in and help? Let's clearly state the potential damage if lionfish get established on St. Croix: risk to swimmers, snorkelers, divers and fishermen of invenomation; risks to our fish supplies being cut by 79 percent; risk to tourism via dangerous species in our waters.
Think about a St. Croix where no one can go in the water and no one can catch fish.
Please ask your government to step up.
Frederiksted, St. Croix
Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to firstname.lastname@example.org.