Controversies and consensus on the lionfish invasion in the Western Atlantic Ocean

A very interesting perspective on the lionfish invasion in this new paper (it is long, but an easy read). The author takes a social science perspective, assessing how the media, resource managers and other stakeholders view the invasion. My favorite parts are some of the extremist quotes she mentions, for example: “It’s like an oil spill that keeps reproducing and will keep reproducing forever”. Wow. That sounds bad.

I am planning a talk at ASAC that also approaches the lionfish invasion from a different perspective, namely considering the lionfish invasion in the context of overall conservation priorities.

Here is the full paper summary:

ABSTRACT. This study investigates how the lionfish (Pterois sp.) invasion of the Western Atlantic Ocean has been socially constructed by natural scientists, the media, and stakeholders associated with various marine protected areas in the Caribbean. By examining the use of data and metaphors by these actors, I identify where invasion discourses converge and diverge. Although consensus exists regarding the non-nativeness, introduction vector, and successful establishment of lionfish throughout the region, I also identify uncertainty surrounding lionfish impact and controversies regarding lionfish management and control. The dominant discourse frames lionfish as a threat and control efforts as a war to keep the enemy at bay, and promotes lionfish hunting and consumption by humans: the “ultimate predators.” However, this view is challenged by a coalition that questions the safety, effectiveness, and morality of the practices promoted by the kill-and-eat lionfish coalition. A nascent discourse that frames lionfish as fulfilling the role of overexploited native species, primarily expressed in socioeconomic terms, is shifting lionfish impact perception from negative to positive among some stakeholder groups. Whereas the dominant discourse views humans as helping nature to regain balance through lionfish hunting, a minority coalition views lionfish as part of the ecosystem, where a new equilibrium will be reached. This study shows that scientific data and metaphors, amplified by the media, facilitated initial understanding of the lionfish phenomenon and are used to legitimize claims. In time, however, local knowledge and societal values have intermingled with scientific data, sometim

By | 2017-12-01T14:01:58-05:00 November 7th, 2015|Categories: Featured, Invasive Species, lionfish|0 Comments

About the Author:

Craig Layman
My lab’s interdisciplinary pursuits provide for a multi-faceted understanding of environmental change in the coastal realm. We are ecologists, asking questions that span population, community, ecosystem and evolutionary sub-disciplines. We often use a food web based perspective, exploring top-down (e.g., predation) and bottom-up (e.g., nutrient excretion) mechanisms by which animals affect ecosystem processes. All of our efforts are framed within a broader outreach framework, directly integrating science and education, using approaches such as this website.

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