Jamaica reports big drop in lionfish sightings

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KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Jamaica is reporting big drops in sightings of lionfish, the voracious invasive species that crowds reefs and preys on native marine creatures.

Some four years after a campaign to hunt lionfish in coastal waters got started, Jamaica's National Environment and Planning Agency is reporting a 66 percent drop in sightings of the candy-striped predator in waters up to 75 feet.

Dayne Buddo is a Jamaican marine ecologist who focuses on marine invaders. He attributes the decrease to efforts to catch and market lionfish as food.

Buddo said Sunday that fishermen are now selling it briskly at markets. In 2009, he says fishermen "didn't want to mess" with the fish with venomous spines.

Lionfish are native to the Indian and Pacific oceans. But they've colonized Caribbean and Atlantic reefs for years.

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