Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Local knowledge and awareness on the incipient lionfish invasion in the eastern Mediterranean Sea

E. Azzurro A and M. Bariche B C

A Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), Livorno, Piazzale dei Marmi 2, I-57123 Livorno, Italy.

B Department of Biology, American University of Beirut, 11-0236, Riad El-Solh, Beirut 1107 2020, Lebanon.

C Corresponding author. Email: michel.bariche@aub.edu.lb

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16358
Submitted: 22 October 2016  Accepted: 16 January 2017   Published online: 30 March 2017

Abstract

Public participation is increasingly used to both study and manage marine bio-invasions. Here, we outline the use of public surveys to rapidly acquire information on the very first stages of colonisation by the invasive Pterois miles in the Mediterranean Sea. Interviews with 105 fishermen, spearfishers and scuba divers in Lebanon provided evidence of a proliferation and rapid expansion of the species, whose presence at the time of the survey was less than that of a true invasion. We also evaluate the role of stakeholders and sea users in responding to this emerging hazard, investigating awareness and willingness to collaborate on managing efforts. These findings showed the potential of local communities to acquire ecological knowledge not available to scientists working alone. This participative approach also consolidates the dialogue and partnership between researchers and stakeholders ameliorating the civil response to time-sensitive conservation issues.

Additional keywords: Lessepsian migration, local ecological knowledge, public perceptions.


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