On Roatan, spearfishing is illegal, save for one fish - lionfish. While they are a welcome sight in Southeast Asia and Australia, they are an invasive species in the Americas, throwing off the natural balance of the reefs. Without any natural predators, lionfish populations have exploded in areas that they are not endemic, and they have decimated local reef fish populations in many areas with their voracious appetites.
Luckily, lionfish are delicious, with dense, white meat that’s not oily or fishy. The meat can be prepared in a variety of ways, including ceviche, baked, in curries and pasta sauces, and fried. There are even cookbooks dedicated only to lionfish recipes!
Lionfish are very much on the “green” list on Roatan, so the Roatan Marine Park has created a Bay Islands Lionfish Spearing License workshop to teach you more about the lionfish invasion and how to spear them in an environmentally conscious way. The course is $70, and successful completion of the program gets you a license that’s valid for two years and a spear that’s registered to your license. Please note that you must complete the workshop and get a license in order to legally hunt for lionfish on Roatan, and if you are caught spearing for fish other than lionfish or without a valid license, the Roatan Marine Park can confiscate your dive equipment and fine you.
The Roatan Marine Park runs the program twice a week, but if you’re a bigger group they should be able to get a custom time together for you as well.
Visit the Roatan Marine Park’s Lionfish Workshop page to register for the course and make sure to watch the video ahead of time. Happy hunting!