Lionfish: ‘A plague that can be managed’

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

Venomous invaders from the South Pacific and Indian oceans are in the Cedar Keys area to stay, according to a scientist from the University of Florida.

But that doesn't mean they can't be managed.

Dr. Tom Frazer, an aquatic ecologist and director of the University of Florida's School of Natural Resources and Environment, spoke to a full house gathered at the Cedar Key Public Library Saturday morning about the spread of tropical lionfish in the area and around the world.

"I don't think you're gonna get anybody to say 'We're gonna' get rid of these guys,'" Frazer said. But the evidence suggests their numbers can be controlled.

Lionfish, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, were first spotted near Dania Beach in 1985 and then in Miami, Boca Raton, Palm Beach and Bermuda in the 1990s. The fish are now reported to inhabit oceans along the Atlantic Coast as far as North Carolina, parts of South America, throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

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