The lionfish is a majestic creature. With beautiful coloring and amazing structure, there is something magical about watching a lionfish riding the current off the reef. If you're diving in Southeast Asia or Australia, it's always a delight to see these fish, and as professional divers, we love pointing them out to our guests.
However, as many of you know, lionfish are not endemic to the Caribbean. There are many viable theories as to how they were released, but most point to the private aquarium trade. As a result of them accidentally being released in this area, their numbers have exploded and people all over the Caribbean and Americas are struggling to curb their population.
As a marine reserve, it's illegal to spearfish in the Roatan Marine Park. Lionfish are the exception, since they have no natural predators in the Americas and their venomous spines provide a strong defense against potential predators. As a result, the Roatan Marine Park Invasive Lionfish Control Program was developed as a proactive measure to get the local community, snorkelers, and divers involved in helping curb lionfish numbers in these waters.
To obtain your Bay Islands Lionfish License, you start by attending a workshop conducted by the Roatan Marine Park that teaches you about proper spear usage, education on hunting regulations, and includes an in-water skills assessment using coconuts as target practice. In the water, it's important to demonstrate good spatial awareness and buoyancy, since the purpose of hunting lionfish is to protect the reef, and if you're banging all over it and killing the coral, it defeats the purpose of this program. The Roatan Marine Park Lionfish License is $50 and includes a registered spear, the workshop and your license, which is valid for 2 years. The Roatan Marine Park normally runs these workshops twice a week from their Eco Store in West End based on interest, but they can run special workshops for larger groups as well.
The only fish that you're allowed to spear in the Roayan Marine Park is lionfish, a beautiful but invasive species of fish that threatens our reef populations. Learn more about the RMP spearfishing license on our newest blog post coming out later today! #molionsmoproblems #roatanmarinepark #rmp #savethereef #eatalionfish #lionfish #roatan
We love it when we hear divers express an interest in lionfish hunting. From eating a tasty sustainable guilt-free fish option to competing in our annual Roatan Lionfish Derby, or for the thrill of the hunt while helping defend the reef, there are so many good reasons to support Roatan's lionfish program. Talk to your dive center and see how you can get involved today!