Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)

To inspire innovative, transnational solutions to critical Mesoamerican reef issues through providing meaningful, long-term financial support and trustworthy reef management advice so that future generations can enjoy and benefit from a thriving reef.
Jun 17, 2013

First Lionfish derby in Guatemala!

Lionfish spotted during the derby
Lionfish spotted during the derby

On May 18, the first lionfish derby was realized in Guatemala.  It was held in front of the Motagüilla coastal community, in the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge.

It was a private sector initiative, as two dive shops gather their efforts to organize this derby and making it happen: Water Quest and Big Dive.  Water Quest was the one that led the event. They did some research about how these activities have been done in other countries of the MAR region. They also got information about the existing regulation regarding lionfish derbies, required certification in other countries, and the needed equipment they are allowed to use to hunt down this invasive species.  

After getting all this information, Water Quest organized a couple of informative training workshops, inviting known divers that were interested in participating in the lionfish derby. 

Water Quest also got the pole spears or 'hawaiian slings', that are the type of harpoons required for hunting the lionfish. They also managed to get the storage bins that are used for keeping the dead lionfish. These were donated.

The Guatemalan Fisheries Administration (DIPESCA), also joined the organization of the event and was present the day of the derby to guarantee that lionfish was the only target species of the tournament, as well as no corals were harmed or collected from the water.

Almost 40 people participated in the derby, and 126 lionfish were killed - not a bad figure at all to be the first derby in the country.  The lionfish were donated to the Motagüilla fishing community for self-consumption. 

Another lionfish derby is being planned for the month of July.  This time, the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) will also participate in order to take advantage of the event and gather biological information.  This time, the methodology (protocol) to estimate local lionfish density will be applied.

We look forward to sharing with you the results from this coming event. 

Mar 20, 2013

Lionfish also hunted in Guatemala!

During the month of April, Guatemala will celebrate the Second 'Festival of the Sea' in Puerto Barrios, Izabal.

Many activities are being proposed for this popular event, including: a sand statues sculpture tournament and a wall painting tournament, music, aquatic activities, stands of information on: climate change, mangroves, fisheries, use of water, etc.

For the last day of the event, the fisheries authority and a fishing community of the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge are organizing a lionfish rally.  They are planning on dividing the rally in two phases:

  • Catch of lionfish, and
  • Lionfish cooking demonstration

This shows that fishing communities from Guatemala have already identified the lionfish as a plague and want it out of their fishing ground, as this fish represents competition for them.

The initiative is also telling us that they are aware of the potential that the lionfish has as a food alternative, as long as it is handle it with the respective caution.

Do you think a rally is a good start for the Guatemalan fishermen?

Thanks for your support,

Tha MAR Fund Team

Mar 20, 2013

Co-managers moving forward!

Now that the fishing communities from La Graciosa Bay, Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, Guatemala, are taking their role as co-managers, they began by identifying action lines that they should work on, in order to empower themselves as resources managers.  The action lines identified were:                     

  • Participation of and coordination with key actors in Management Processes
  • Human capital formation
  • Effective management
  • Scientific information for the assessment and monitoring of impacts
  • Communication
  • Ecosystems connectivity

They are also working in the identification of needs of the protected area and its natural resources.  They have also designed the Action Plan for the fisheries recovery sites and are now socializing it with all the communities before beginning its implementation.

It has been a long and hard way to obtain the official involvement of fishers in the co-management process, but we are walking the right way on achieving the natural resources recovery through the participation of stakeholders, who after all are the main users of this resources.

Do you agree with me?

Thank you very much,

The MAR Fund team

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