Control of Lionfish in the Mesoamerican Reef

by Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)
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

We are delighted to tell you that the Lionfish Management Workshop, as a side event at the 68th annual general meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) held in Panama, brought together over 50 conservation practitioners, government departments, non-governmental organizations and academics working in the field of lionfish control and management from across the Wider Caribbean Region. Thank you to CAR-SPAW-RAC for organizing the event!

Jennifer Chapman, Blue Ventures Country Coordinator in Belize, presented the Regional Strategy for the Control of Lionfish in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR), on behalf of the MAR Fund.

We already received some comments from people outside the MAR region that are very interested inthe process we took, with your support, to achieve this important step.  

The MAR Fund team takes this opportunity to wish you a Happy Holidays and all a the best for 2016!

After a few months that the Belize Fisheries Department jointly with Blue Ventures began their project "A practical approach to long-term lionfish control: developing Belize’s national lionfish exploitation strategy.", they have already accomplished significant results.  Some of these are:

  • They have completed the trainig component with fishers regarding lionfish monitoring
  • Gathered all baseline indicators for programme evaluation
  • Designed the social marketing campaign
  • Set up the survey design and schedule for monitoring in five marine reserves

This has not been without significant challenges, given the high variability in lionfish population density discovered from their pilot surveys, which has required them to modify their initial survey design.

Whilst they have been implementing these activities, they have of course also been planning the next steps - that is, implementing the strategy.

We really look forward to receive the progress report from the Fisheries Department, so we will learn more from their progress and be able to share them with you.

Thank you all for your support!


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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
$4,539 raised of $95,000 goal
32 donations
$90,461 to go
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