Control of Lionfish in the Mesoamerican Reef

Dec 20, 2012

Simple techniques to estimate lionfish population

According to the Report Card 2012 for the Mesoamerican Reef of the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI), there are two important and disturbing facts about lionfish:

  • Lionfish are larger and more abundant on invaded reefs than in their natural habitat, and
  • Lionfish are always in season 

At their own rythm and possibilities, Fisheries and Protected Areas Authorities within the MAR have taken management actions that can decrease the extent of the lionfish invasion.

Also, as mentioned in our previous update report, Eloy Sosa PhD, from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) in Chetumal, Mexico, has developed a protocol that includes two simple methodologies to estimate lionfish population.

Fishing tournaments

These have become a very successful activity and widely accepted among authorities, civil society and the general community. The distinct advantage of these tournaments is that achieve multiple objectives simultaneously. In particular, being open mode activity to the local community and even tourists, fishing tournaments can be exploited for the purpose of environmental education and awareness, also capturing intense concentrated in an area bounded by what cause a real decline in lionfish abundance locally, at least for a while.

Depletion experiments: short-term successive captures

This method involves removal capture experiments or applied successively in a short period of time, with two to five successive occasions applied capture a set of stations or sub-areas within a selected target area in advance. In this case it is particularly critical that the experiment is short-term, that the whole series of successive catches check within five to seven days. This section considers a week: seven days, maximum duration of the experiment and a number of two to five times or successive revisions-with catching fish.

We will be happy to share with you the results of these two techniques as soon as any of them is being implemented in the MAR region. 

Once again, we would like to thank you for your constant support to face one of the main threats the measoamerican reef has these days.


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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