The Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) is a major threat to Caribbean reefs. First sighted in Belize in 2008, the invader is known to significantly reduce native fish biomass, threatening the ecological integrity of Belize’s world heritage-listed barrier reef. The lionfish invasion thereby undermines fishing and marine tourism industries alike, which support 15,400 livelihoods and contribute 25 per cent to Belize’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Blue Ventures is initiating efforts to build Belize’s lionfish fishery as an economic alternative for fishers and tasty option for consumers. This creates economic incentives to systematically remove the predator, whilst diversifying fisheries and local livelihoods within coastal communities, ultimately reducing pressure on traditionally-targeted native species.
Targeted lionfish fishing is now evolving in Belize, offering ecological and economic benefits. New sources of income for fishing households, e.g. women manufacturing jewellery from discards or new dishes appearing on restaurant menus, further develop the emerging market and help suppress the lionfish population.