Control of Lionfish in the Mesoamerican Reef

Mar 12, 2012

Lionfish hunting season is open!

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

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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