Control of Lionfish in the Mesoamerican Reef

by Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)

After the regional workshop for the development of a regional strategy for the control of lionfish in the Mesoamerican Reef, a first draft of the document was distributed to the participants so that they could provide comments and recommendations to it.

The National Council of Protected Areas of Guatemala offered the technical support for the layout of the document using high technology and a great staff.

While the document is getting ready, a couple of proposals to support local initiatives in Belize and Guatemala are being prepared based on the information and experiences shared during the workshop and the final draft of the regional strategy.

We have great expectations regarding the regional strategy.  It will launch a lot of local projects and initiatives that will represent regional progress towards the control of this invasive species.

We will let you know when the strategy is ready!

Lionfish workshop group
Lionfish workshop group

The Convention for the Conservation and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, also known as the Cartagena Convention, and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund -MAR Fund-, recently signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the aim of work together on the conservation and sustainable management of coastal marine resources in areas of mutual importance.

As one of the first actions under the framework of this Memorandum, an initial workshop to develop the regional strategy for the control of lionfish in the MAR was held in Guatemala between 22 and 23 May 2014. The workshop allowed an exchange of experiences between the Caribbean and the Mesoamerican Reef countries.

The objectives of the workshop were:

  • To begin the development of a Mesoamerican Reef Strategy for the control of lionfish based on the Caribbean Strategy.
  • To have an exchange of experiences between the Caribbean and the MAR regions
  • To define concrete management and control actions for this invasive exotic specie

At the end of the workshop the organizers offered a lionfish tasting and thus promote the consumption of lionfish in the population. The objective of the completion of these type of events is to control the population of this invasive species and learn more about handling and control, thus contributing to the conservation of coral reefs.

The most important result of the workshop was the generation of inputs to develop a MAR regional strategy.  We will gladly share with you the progress of this strategy.

The MAR Fund Team

As the invasion of lionfish raises among Coastal and Marine Protected Areas of the Mesoamerican Reef Region, a meeting to start with the development of a MAR lionfish control strategy is being organized.

Authorities from the four countries of the region and the international cooperation are planning to gather a well-selected group of experts in lionfish to share experiences and to prepare the basics for a MAR strategy to control this invasive species.  

Based on the Caribbean Strategy for the control of lionfish, the experts will work for two days to develop a document that, after been discussed and completed with feedback from other key actors of the region, will be finished and will hopefully become a regional strategy.

The meeting will end with a lionfish tasting prepared for an open public, in which information about the biology and ecology of lionfish.  A talk regarding why the consumption of lionfish is an effective control tool will also be presented.

We will definetly let you know how this regional meeting goes and what were its results.

Fishers and authorities jointly catching lionfish
Fishers and authorities jointly catching lionfish

After the success reached by the lion fish cook off during the National Food Fair in September, fishermen from Quetzalito, a small fishing village from the Guatemalan Caribbean, with the support of DIPESCA (Fisheries Administration) and Water Quest, a dive shop committed with some groups of fishermen, brought lionfish to a prestigious Spanish restaurant in Guatemala City.  

During the event, several lionfish dishes were served to the participants, that included: NGOs, GOs, private sector and general public.  All dishes were a complete success, giving the impression that lionfish might be well accepted as a gourmet meal.

The community of Quetzalito is really looking forward to start commercializing lionfish as an economic alternative as they know they wouldn't be just earning income but collaborating with the reef ecosystem of their country. 

Now that Guatemala has joined the lionfish battle in the MAR region, a regional workshop is starting to be planned to develop a MAR strategy to face the lionfih invasion.  Individual and local measures have to be shared and expanded at a regional level.  Even when is not a warranty, It is the best way to address this issue.

We will keep you posted about this workshop and will let you know if Quetzalito becomes a lionfish supplier for Guatemala city.

Thank you very much for your support!

The MAR Fund Team

Lionfish ceviche served at the cook off
Lionfish ceviche served at the cook off

Last Saturday, September 07, a second lionfish derby was held with the Quetzalito fishing community, again in the site known as Motagüilla in Punta de Manabique.

This time, the goal was a much more interesting one.  The National Food Fair was going to be held in Guatemala City from Monday 9 to Wednesday 11, and the fishers, with support from Scuba Dive Shops, Dim Sum Restaurant, GOs and NGOs, wanted to promote lionfish conssumption during this event.

It is important to mention that the owner of Dim Sum Restaurant already has a cooperation agreement with MAR Fund, and he donates a percent of the profit generated by certain dishes of his restaurant, for sustainable fishing projects.

During the derby, sixty eight lionfish were hunted thanks to thirty six brave divers. The amount of fish was not much, but it was just fine for the Food Fair.  The hunted lionfish were brought to the fair and a cook off was set to all participants in the fair. Many people had the experince of tasting the delicious lionfish meat.

As a result of this initiative, a group of restaurants, including Dim Sum, became really interested in including lionfish to their menus. Fishers are very excited to start selling this new product while protecting the reef by extracting this invasive and harmful species.



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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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