Invasive Indo-Pacific lionfishes (Pterois volitans and P. miles) threaten Caribbean coral reefs, yet there has been little examination of possible economic effects of this invasion. In this thesis I explore interactions between lionfish and Caribbean spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus) in natural reef environments and in Bahamian ‘condo’ fishing gear. In both settings I found circumstantial evidence for competition for space between the two species but it is unclear who is displacing whom. Deterministic economic modeling revealed a modest cost to lobster fishers who take time to kill lionfish or work more slowly to avoid their venomous spines. However, this cost exacerbated the negative effects of variation in other components of the fishery, such as lobster price, time taken to gather lobsters, and amount harvested at each condo. This study provides the first attempt to quantify some of the economic impacts of invasive lionfish.
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Thesis advisor: Côté, Isabelle M.
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