Control of Lionfish in the Mesoamerican Reef

 
$2,679
$92,321
Raised
Remaining

Even with certified lionfish hunters in Honduras, and volunteers and fishers in Belice and Mexico, the lionfish continues to spread its invasion in the Mesoamerican Reef.

Hunting tournaments or 'derbies' have been organized in several areas of the MAR to eliminate as much of lionfish population as possible.

Eloy Sosa, a high standing professor from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) in Chetumal, Mexico, is working on a methodology to estimate lionfish density taking advantage of these derbies.  He is designing a methodology, also to estimate density but to be implemented by fishers, dive guides, NGOs and/or more volunteers.

The Healthy Reefs Initiative has also identified and named the lionfish one of the main threats to the MAR region, along with climate change, overfishing and others. 

We have got to keep supporting all these efforts, we cannot let this exotic animal to destroy our beautiful reef!

Please, let's help all these organizations and initiatives accomplish their goals to control lionfish!

After evaluating the current process for obtaining the license to hunt lionfish, staff rom the Roatan Marine Park (RMP), Honduras, has identified the need for better control over the sport to reduce the amount of damage to the sorrounding environment and spear holders alike.

The RMP offers now a recognized license to spearfish lionfish that is valid for two years.  For this, the interested person must sign a Memorandum of Understanding o fulfil the Honduran law, will learn spearing techniques and lionfish history.

Snorkelers can get licenses and will have to sign all agreements stated by the Fisheries Administration (DIGEPESCA, Spanish acronym).  They will be issued a different format of license and if they wish upgrade to a diving one they will have to go through the bouyancy check.

Vacationers will have to do the same as everyone else but when tehy return their spear they will receive a $10 rebate and the spear will be recycled into the local fisherman education program.

If the person has its own spear, the cost of the license will be of $20, if not, it will be of $40.

The license is property of the RMP and is issued on behalf of DIGEPESCA.  To renew the license, an accuracy workshop will be necessary.

Please keep helping us to train more people on the lionsih hunting the right way!

Hawaiian sling technique to capture lionfish
Hawaiian sling technique to capture lionfish

The bad news is that lionfish population growth is not stopping.  The good news is that NGOs and authorities from Marine Protected Areas of the MAR region are working hard to prepare coastal communities and to properly certify people to capture lionfish.

Ideas such as “we need to be the main predator,” “feed them to native fish” or “bring them back to eat for dinner” are very popular these days.  To do so, people must be aware of the skills that catching this fish requires.

In Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras, the Roatan Marine Park (RMP) and the Utila Center for Marine Ecology (UCME) have move forward with their lionfish workshops, and have started with the next step: training workshops to teach capture methods.

The most common methods of capture are the net and stick, which is recommended for juveniles, and the pole spear or Hawaiian sling.  This method, if done properly, is quick and safe.  The spear can be strapped to the diving oxygen tank.  

There are five important rules that must be considered when spearing, and that NGOs and authorities are making clear to certified lionfish hunters:

  1. Safety!  The Hawaiian sling is a weapon.
  2. Brief people before the hunting dive (i.e. spearing will be occurring in the near vicinity)
  3. Secure safe shots before shooting:
    1. Clear 3 meters circle around you
    2. Make sure all people are behind you
  4. Consider the reef around you (i.e. don’t hit anything, especially coral and even sponges)
  5. Never point the pole spear at anyone.
Fisherman from Roatan enjoying his lionfish catch
Fisherman from Roatan enjoying his lionfish catch

Dear friends,

The holidays are here, and all of us at MAR Fund are taking a moment to reflect and give thanks for those who support us.  We have received a number of donations through GlobalGiving this year, and we’re very grateful to all of you!  We’d like to take this opportunity to thank donors who prefer to remain anonymous, since we are unable to send them individual thank you notes.

We made a lot of progress this year, but there is still work to be done.  Among the multiple threats to the Mesoamerican Reef region, the lionfish invasion continues to loom large.  And so we also look forward to the coming year, and the many activities ahead of us.

Lionfish wipes out large numbers of marine species, making it more difficult for these creatures to grow to reproductive age and continue furthering the species.  The MAR Fund is supporting solutions to this issue in part through our GlobalGiving project: Lionfish Control.

Donating to the MAR Fund’s project on Global Giving is a gift to MAR region fish species.

We encourage you to make a contribution this holiday season that will directly work to control lionfish in the region.  If you’re looking for a unique gift, GlobalGiving has the solution: tribute cards. You can give in someone’s name and GlobalGiving will send them a card announcing the gift.  Right now, GlobalGiving is running a Tribute Card Challenge in which they will give $500 bonuses to the 15 projects with the most tribute donations.  Help our project break into the top 15 and finish your holiday shopping at the same time!

Give in honor of someone who loves to scuba dive, or someone who is enamored of the crystalline waters of the MAR region.  Or because you feel compassion for fish and the reef ecosystem.  Or because you think lionfish is delicious and should appear on more menus.  Or because you want to preserve the treasure that is the Mesoamerican Reef for future generations.  Whatever your reason to give, you can be confident that your donation will have a ripple effect.

Again, thank you for your support in 2011, and please consider a year-end gift to help us kick off our work in 2012!

Enjoy your holidays.  Wishing you all the best for this season and a positive start to 2012,

The MAR Fund team: María José, Claudio, Patty, Claudia, and Edgar

Dear friends,

The first workshop "Invasive Lionfish Control and Management" will be held in Puerto Morelos in the first week of November 2011, during the 64th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) meeting.

This will be a "training of trainers" workshop, where the trainees are expected to take information and training back to their country and train others unable to attend, including key stakeholders and partners. The workshop is being organized by REEF and the SPAW-RAC, so we know that the event will be high-quality and have positive results.

We did the math and estimate that the costs for one fisherman to attend the meeting are at least US$1,250.  This includes flights, ground transport, registration, and lodging.

This Wednesday, October 19, is a great day to support us to get as many fishermen as we can to this important event, as GlobalGiving is giving away US$100,000 during the final Bonus Day of the year!  During this day and only this day, GlobalGiving is matching at 30% all on-line donations, up to US$1,000 per donor per project. In addition to the 30% match, GlobalGiving is offering a $1,000 bonus to the project that raises the most funds that day and a $1,000 bonus to the project that receives donations from the most individual donors! Please consider donating this Wednesday so that your donation will go even further.  The number of fishermen we can send to the lionfish workshop depends directly on you!

Please, don't let this amazing opportunity pass by!   Thank you very much for your continued support!

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Project Leader

Maria Jose Gonzalez

Executive Director
Guatemala, Guatemala

Where is this project located?

Map of Control of Lionfish in the Mesoamerican Reef