Ever since we arrived on the island, Chantal and I knew we wanted our Lionfish licenses. Although they are pretty, in the Caribbean, Lionfish are an invasive species. There are a number of theories on how they arrived from the Indopacific, but no matter who or what is to blame, Lionfish are a problem in Roatan. They have no natural predators, voracious appetites, and a strong resilience to environmental factors allowing them to easily spread through the Caribbean and beyond. Our licenses were obtained through the Roatan Marine Park, the NGO responsible for protecting over 941 hectares of coastline and sea surrounding our island. Although the license was 50 dollars (a little pricey for a DMT) We knew our money was largely a donation to the Marine Park, and when you have a passion for diving, supporting local conservation efforts is a no brainer.
Plus, they gave us spears!
After we watched the video https://youtu.be/yRjs78-5F-Yand had a short talk with Nic, the Marine Infrastructure Coordinator, we headed out to the sand patch to prove our worth! The harvest of lionfish is important for the health of the reef, however the irresponsible use of spears could potentially be worse. Bad buoyancy and missed shots risk hits to the coral, damaging thousands of years of growth. So before we were able to head out and hunt we had to prove to Nic that we were capable. He provided us with a number of coconuts so we could get a feel for the action of our spears. After we were comfortable he set up a ‘pretend’ reef and placed the coconuts in small alcoves (where lionfish typically hang out), and we KILLED those coconuts!
I think even Nic was surprised.
With our licenses to kill, Chantal and I can’t wait to join the fight for the control of lionfish in Roatan. The free ceviche doesn’t hurt either!