Environment

Atlantic Lionshare seeks sponsors for ROV

  • The zapper: a remotely-operated vehicle, the Reef Sweeper, built by Atlantic LionShare, has already removed more than 1,000 of the invasive fish from Bermudian waters this year (Photograph supplied)
  • Dangerous predator: a Lionfish, a species native to the Pacific and Indian oceans, and accidentally introduced into the Atlantic Ocean, is an invasive species and is both dangerous to handle and voracious in its appetite
  • The zapper: a remotely-operated vehicle, the Reef Sweeper, built by Atlantic LionShare, has already removed more than 1,000 of the invasive fish from Bermudian waters this year (Photograph supplied)

A Bermudian company is on the hunt for businesses to sponsor the battle against invasive lionfish.

Atlantic Lionshare spent five years developing a remote-controlled mini-submarine to hunt lionfish in deep water, which is now being tested in Florida.

The ROV, called The Reef Sweeper, has already removed more than 1,000 of the invasive fish from Bermudian waters this year.

A spokesman for the company said: “Atlantic Lionshare has a commercial business model and is actively seeking corporate sponsors who would like to be associated with large-scale removal of lionfish from the invaded region.”

Lionfish are native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but were introduced to the Atlantic in the 1990s.

With no natural predators, the species thrived and spread across the Caribbean, the US East Coast and Bermuda.

A spokesman for Atlantic Lionshare said a demand for lionfish as food has increased in Bermuda as grocery stores and restaurants put the fish on their menus.

He said that free divers, scuba divers and technical divers had helped to feed the demand, but they can only operate in shallow waters.

The spokesman said: “Even technical divers can’t go much deeper than 60m.

“Surveys conducted around the edge of Bermuda, by the Nekton Mission in 2016, showed that lionfish are present at depths as great as 300m, and there is an urgent need to harvest lionfish at depths beyond the limits of humans using dive gear.

“While the Bermuda Government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences have been testing lionfish traps in deeper waters around the island, there is always the risk of by-catch — capturing fish other than lionfish.”

The spokesman added The Reef Sweeper can operate at depths of up to 300m and can be programmed to only target lionfish.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission offered Atlantic Lionshare a $50,000 development grant, in exchange for an agreement to remove lionfish from Florida waters, at depths greater than 150ft.

The Reef Sweeper was transported to Destin, Florida, and Atlantic Lionshare is testing the ROVs, as a method of large-scale removal of lionfish.

Anyone interested in sponsorship of the company should contact Elizabeth Martin, the owner and managing director, at liz@atlanticlionshare.com