Investigation of ciguatoxins in invasive lionfish from the greater caribbean region: Implications for fishery development.PLoS One. 2018; 13(6):e0198358.Plos
Lionfish, native to reef ecosystems of the tropical and sub-tropical Indo-Pacific, were introduced to Florida waters in the 1980s, and have spread rapidly throughout the northwestern Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. These invasive, carnivorous fish significantly reduce other fish and benthic invertebrate biomass, fish recruitment, and species richness in reef ecosystems. Fisheries resource managers have proposed the establishment of a commercial fishery to reduce lionfish populations and mitigate adverse effects on reef communities. The potential for a commercial fishery for lionfish is the primary reason to identify locations where lionfish accumulate sufficient amounts of ciguatoxin (CTX) to cause ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP), the leading cause of non-bacterial seafood poisoning associated with fish consumption. To address this issue, an initial geographic assessment of CTX toxicity in lionfish from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico was conducted. Lionfish samples (n = 293) were collected by spearfishing from 13 locations (74 sampling sites) around the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico between 2012 and 2015. The highest frequencies of lionfish containing measurable CTX occurred in areas known to be high-risk regions for CFP in the central to eastern Caribbean (e.g., 53% British Virgin Islands and 5% Florida Keys). Though measurable CTX was found in some locations, the majority of the samples (99.3%) contained CTX concentrations below the United States Food and Drug Administration guidance level of 0.1 ppb Caribbean ciguatoxin-1 (C-CTX-1) equivalents (eq.). Only 0.7% of lionfish tested contained more than 0.1 ppb C-CTX-1 eq. As of 2018, there has been one suspected case of CFP from eating lionfish. Given this finding, current risk reduction techniques used to manage CTX accumulating fish are discussed.