Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2019. 11:15 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The invasive red lionfish has been an unwelcome guest in Belize’s maritime waters since 2008, overwhelming more illustrious residents and wreaking havoc in the balance of the health of the Belize Barrier Reef.
The Fisheries Department and Blue Ventures Conservation Limited have produced a four year plan dedicated to managing the situation with lionfish, having largely acknowledged that it is difficult at this point to completely eradicate it.
The primary goals of the strategy are to minimize the lionfish population to ensure other species are kept safe, and to invite the participation of all stakeholders to improve livelihoods of Belizeans involved in fishing.
According to Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade, this involves active “culling” of lionfish by tournament goers; continued research and monitoring and encouraging Belizeans to eat more lionfish at home and at restaurants.
As of 2015, the population stands at between 10 and 20 lionfish per hectare after a spike in 2011, but the species still poses a threat. Further studies are to be conducted.
Wade clarified that the lionfish spine is venomous but not poisonous; cooked properly it is delicious and safe to eat.
She also noted that jewelry made from lionfish parts is a regional hit and source of income.
A working group will be constituted to help manage and implement the plan.
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