Control of Lionfish in the Mesoamerican Reef

by Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)
Ready for the Festival
Ready for the Festival

With the catches obtained during the derby that took place in the month of April-2016 in the Motagüilla site, located in front of the river mouth of the Motagua River in Punta de Manabique in the coast of Guatemala, Mundo Azul Foundation provided the women from El Quetzalito village the material needed to participate in the Gastronomic Festival that took place on Saturday April 23rd in Izabal, Guatemala.

The participation from the women had its benefits, thanks to Mundo Azul Foundation, the women showcased their best lionfish dishes at the festival, after practicing with the help of a famous Guatemalan chef Milly (Titi) Bruderer.

We are happy to announce that as a result of their effort and hunger for knowledge, the women from El Quetzalito were able to present to the judges’ unique lionfish dishes which got them 2nd and 3rd place in the festival.

This activity only proves that the communities are interested on investing their time in learning how to handle and cook lionfish and also understand how important it is to work together to a) manage their fisheries resources for the benefit of the reefs and b) take their cooking skills to the next level.

Reaching this goal wouldn’t have been able without your help, for which we are grateful.

With this they were able to let everybody know that the women from El Quetzalito can cook.

Thank you again for your support!

We also want to take the time and wish you a Happy Holidays, may this New Year bring blessings your way.

All the best

The MAR Fund Team

The special guest :)
The special guest :)
Lionfish dish
Lionfish dish
Delicious dish
Delicious dish
Judges tasting the dishes
Judges tasting the dishes
Receiving the prize, 2nd & 3rd place
Receiving the prize, 2nd & 3rd place
Hunting lion fish
Hunting lion fish

Continuing with the extraction of lionfish in the Motagüilla site, located in front of the river mouth of the Motagua River in Punta de Manabique in the coast of Guatemala, Mundo Azul Foundation with the support of the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) and members from El Quetzalito community, developed the third derby of 2016 from April 10th through April 14th.

Although this time there was a slight change of plans, the team went one mile farther out from the original site in Motagüilla for two dives to hunt more specimens. Why is this, you may ask… well on Saturday April 23rd, the Gastronomic Festival took place in Izabal, Guatemala and the women from El Quetzalito participated with different lionfish dishes learnt, so they needed more fish. In this hunt 40 specimens where acquired in the area and taken back so they could be cooked and presented at the Festival.

The other two dives did happen in the Motagüilla site to record any changes in lionfish presence since the derbies began. In this site the presence of lionfish is diminishing, as a result only 7 specimens where hunted in this area. Proving that controlled, planned and organized derbies have their benefit and positive outcomes.

With your support, aside from being able to diminish the population of lionfish, we were able to help the women from El Quetzalito be part of the Gastronomic Festival and showcase their special dishes.



We´ll share the results of the Festival on our next report.

A bucket full of goods
A bucket full of goods
Community member showing off his catch
Community member showing off his catch
hunting a predator
hunting a predator

As part of the extraction project developed by Mundo Azul Foundation and the Lionfish Strategy, the second derby of 2016 took place in the Guatemalan coasts, in Motagüilla site located in front of the river mouth of the Motagua River in Punta de Manabique, from March 8th through March 11th, with the participation of CONAP and community members from El Quetzalito.

Again we find ourselves in the Motagüilla site searching beneath rocks for this predator.

The morphometric measurements of each specimen caught were collected to keep track on the weight and size of each one, this information can be used in future studies of this species. As a result 8 lionfish specimens were caught, which were later used to create a new dish with the women from El Quetzalito community.

The difference in quantity caught between February and March, may be attributed to the changes in weather and current as well as the diminishing of the invaders because of the derbies. Further analysis to better understand lionfish behavior will be needed, as well as much more derbies.

Thank you for your support, we´ll keep you posted on how this story unravels.

measuring each specimen
measuring each specimen
creating a dish (women from El Quetzalito village)
creating a dish (women from El Quetzalito village)
Derby product
Derby product

As part of the Lionfish Strategy, Mundo Azul Foundation developed an extraction project that aims to reduce and control the presence of lionfish in Guatemalan coasts. The first derby for 2016 was carried out in the site known as Motagüilla located in front of the river mouth of the Motagua River in Punta de Manabique, from February 15th through the 19th with the participation of the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) and community members from El Quetzalito.

Training was developed on best lionfish capture practices, harpoon use and safety as well as a cooking course was developed with the women in the community on handling and preparation of the fish. Before the actual derby took place, the team completed lionfish monitoring to determine the organisms density in the reef, information that will help create a baseline regarding lionfish presence in Guatemala.

As a result sixteen lionfish were hunted thanks to the support of nine divers. The amount caught was not much, but it has helped begin the creation of the database with information about this species.

One of the key factors was the participation of the community members, being able to involve them in the process and share knowledge on how to hunt and cook lionfish, as well as the benefit this brings to the reef and how its meat can be useful for their household, will provide them an alternative income once they fully manage the cooking techniques they can sell their dishes.

Bon Appetite!

With your support we are able to continue developing derbies and clear the coast from this invasive species.

community member hunting lionfish
community member hunting lionfish

In Belize, with participation from biologists who underwent training in June last year, in-water surveys to determine lionfish density and biomass as well as lionfish threshold density on coral reefs in South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve were conducted. Consultancies with experts have occurred for survey design, methods development, analyses and modelling of fish communities to develop target lionfish densities at 50 sites across Belize. These data are now being used to prepare lionfish management plans for each protected area as well as to feed into the lionfish stock assessment model and national control strategy. The final model to project changes in structure and biomass of both the in-water lionfish population and landed catch is under development.

A post-graduate student from Colorado State University started working as a social scientist with Blue Ventures in Belize to prepare and carry out the economic viability assessment. 

Lionfish information and taster booths were held at Caye Caulker’s Ocean Academy, the Belize Game Fish Association fair in Belize City and Sarteneja’s Community Day. Classes about the lionfish invasion with standard five classes at two schools in stakeholder communities of South Water Caye Marine Reserve are scheduled to take place during Belize Reef Week 2016 (7-14 March).

It is great to achieve these type of events thanks to your generosity and collaboration.

We will keep you posted on future events!

The MAR Fund Team


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Organization Information

Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)

Location: Guatemala - Guatemala
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Maria Jose Gonzalez
Executive Director
Guatemala, Guatemala
$6,069 raised of $95,000 goal
36 donations
$88,931 to go
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