Since Reef Check Dominican Republic (RCDR) reached the global challenge goal in august, it has been enthusiastically working on a campaign to control the lion fish invasion in Dominican waters.
Enough funding was secured through Global Giving to purchase “park-certified” spear guns, heavy duty underwater gloves, scissors and collection bags, as well as the means to prepare a training for interested scuba divers that wanted to collaborate in this effort of controlling the growing lion fish population. A calendar of monthly control dives was scheduled for an entire year, in which 4-8 divers participate to look and fish for the invasive lion fish. For these dives, volunteer divers get free use of the park boat; free air filled tanks, and the use of park-certified spear guns and lionfish collection gear.
As an additional efforts, RCDR joined forces with the prestigious Dominican gourmet magazine GASTROTECA (http://gastrotecaonline.com), the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation (http://www.puntacana.org/), and Pagés BBDO advertising agency ( http://pagesbbdo.com/bbdo/06/), among others, to organize a Lion Fish Gastronomical Festival involving well-known local chefs and restaurants during this coming December 2011. The objective of this food festival is to stimulate the consumption and promote the sustainable fishing of the lionfish, an invasive species that has become very detrimental to the coral reef ecosystem in the Caribbean. While the chefs and restaurants study the lionfish and its culinary potential, RCDR is working to secure the supply with local fishermen, opening the potential for extra income for local fishermen.
Furthermore, RCDR has undertaken a series of conferences about the lionfish and its damaging effects on the Dominican marine ecosystems. Recently, Dr. Rubén Torres offered a conference on this subject at the School for Hotel and Tourism Enterprises in the well-known Dominican university Universidad Iberoamericana del Caribe (UNIBE)( http://www.unibe.edu.do/). The lecture had the support of local fishermen and the attendance of many students who were interested in learning more about the lionfish and it origins in order to insert this fish into their yearly university wide gastronomical festival. Moreover, a delicious lionfish ceviche courtesy of RCDR and GASTROTECA was served at the conference, which ultimately convinced the audience of the great texture and delicious fresh taste of this invasive fish species.