Hundreds of Lionfish caught in first ever Tournament

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Lionfish Tournament

Lionfish Tournament

On Tuesday night, January 18th, 2011, very interested members of the community, especially the fishing crowd turned up at the Lions’ Den for an educational forum on the Lionfish. The life cycle of said fish, as well as its status in the Caribbean, handling techniques and Belize Fisheries policies on the management of the population in Belize waters was discussed. Also high on the list of priorities was methods of catching this particular species of fish, as it contains toxic dorsal, anal and pelvic spines.

Wednesday was when the fun began with a Lionfish Tournament. All day, eager fishermen and fisherwomen hit the waters to try and land the most Lionfish, the largest and even the smallest. With prizes like snorkel equipment, restaurant dinners, bar tabs and more, everyone was in the mood to catch some Lionfish!

The weigh station was opened at 3pm and closed at 5pm at Wahoo’s Lounge on the beach. All fish were to be landed whole and even after the tournament, the education continued with a demonstration on cleaning and cooking it.

Lionfish are a highly invasive species and after the first confirmed sighting of a lionfish in Belize in December 2008, ECOMAR began working with the Belize Fisheries Department to raise awareness on the problems that are anticipated as a result of the increasing number of lionfish in the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve Ecosystem. A sting from the lionfish is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.

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