The RELIONMED-LIFE project aims to make Cyprus the ‘first line of defence’ against the invasion of the lionfish (Pterois miles) in the Mediterranean. Its specific objectives are to:
- Develop the necessary capacity and mechanisms in Cyprus so the country can act promptly and effectively against the lionfish invasion, and other invasive species from the Red Sea;
- Demonstrate the effectiveness of a range of lionfish invasion prevention measures, such as the development and implementation of an early surveillance and detection system and a removal response system;
- Build capacity and knowledge which can be transferred and replicated by other countries of the Mediterranean, so they can control lionfish expansion in their waters.
Moreover, the project aims to:
- Assess the risks associated with the lionfish and inform stakeholders;
- Demonstrate the effectiveness of ‘Removal Action Teams’ in coordinated and opportunistic lionfish removals around Cyprus;
- Demonstrate coordinated removals in priority areas such as near/within the Natura 2000 sites, Cape Greco and Nisia, and nearby artificial reefs in Marine Protected Areas, where lionfish aggregate;
- Explore potential small local market niches that would make future removals economically sustainable;
- Develop tools and guides for managers;
- Transfer cost-effective practices, and train key stakeholders in neighbouring countries and establish a coordinated response to tackle the cross-border issue of lionfish and invasive alien species.
- Hundreds of lionfish will be collected during the project via coordinated removal competitions and surveillance system-guided expeditions;
- Build social capital and infrastructure to combat the lionfish invasion in the Mediterranean waters;
- Increase awareness about the lionfish invasion among key stakeholders in Cyprus, such as professional divers. It is anticipated that by the end of the project most active divers (at least 100) and their networks will contribute on the surveillance and removal of lionfish, while more than 300 other stakeholders (e.g. fishermen, NGOs, divers) will become accustomed to the lionfish issue.