Dr. Steve Gittings

Dr Steve Gittings

Title: Chief Scientist, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Association, Company, Affiliations: NOAA, but I also work closely with Lionfish University

Your favorite quote: “Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see

Your message or mission statement: When in doubt, trust science. It’s the one thing in this world that has no political persuasion or prejudice. We are destroying ourselves by acting otherwise.

Your latest endeavors and where they take place: I’m working with a variety of people to develop a viable lionfish trap that captures lionfish almost exclusively, doesn’t ghost-fish if it is lost, doesn’t damage the bottom, and minimizes the risk of entanglement of other wildlife like turtles and marine mammals. Right now, I’m working with Lionfish University, the Reef Environmental Action Team, Reef Save, and a few others to start trap tests with commercial fishermen in order to see whether they can fish them effectively and whether they would be worth including as a supplemental fishing option. We’re doing this work in the Florida Keys, but are also currently working in Antigua to help them with lionfish control.

Dr Steve Gittings
Dr Steve Gittings

What efforts are you most proud of?  I’m proud that the traps are finally getting considerable funding after several years of welcome, but limited support for their initial development. But I’ll be a lot prouder if they eventually make some money for fishers and start controlling deepwater lionfish populations!

Anything else you’d like us to know? I’m thankful to be a part of what Jeff MacGregor, in his Smithsonian article, called the “ragtag army” that is fighting lionfish. I’ve met many of the most interesting people in my life since starting to work on the lionfish invasion. It’s been fascinating to see how many different roles people can play when we pull together on something we all care deeply about.

Dr Steve Gittings

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