Support continues in Belize through the Belize Marine Fund, a program within MAR Fund, Blue Ventures Conservation, an organization with almost ten years’ experience of working in the region on lionfish management activities, presented a project called “Building capacity for effective lionfish management in Belize’s fish replenishment zones”. The project will be implemented following the Belize’s National Lionfish Management Strategy (NLMS), supported previously, by strengthening capacity for lionfish control and monitoring in MPA fish replenishment zones.
This project aims to develop effective and collaborative lionfish control in South Water Caye Marine Reserve (SWCMR), using the training model developed for Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA) and currently being replicated with the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD) in the Northern Belize Coastal Complex. The primary beneficiary of the project will be the Wabafu Fishermen Association ('Wabafu'), established in 2015 to enable fishers from Dangriga to manage their natural resources.
Wabafu and a new community-based lionfish brigade at SWCMR will receive training and support to undertake lionfish control and monitoring. Detailed surveys of lionfish and prey fish populations will inform site prioritization and lionfish control targets, helping to improve management effectiveness and reduce the threat of lionfish to reef fish populations and local livelihoods.
The objectives of this project are:
- To establish a ten-person community-based lionfish brigade for South Water Caye Marine Reserve (SWCMR) that is trained in scientific scuba diving and safe removal and handling of lionfish.
- To collect updated monitoring information on lionfish populations and associated native fish community status in SWCMR, using the Lionfish Focused Search method.
- To prioritize sites and establish quantitative targets for lionfish control in SWCMR by reviewing data collected in 2022 and with the involvement of SWCMR stakeholder groups.
This project addresses the need for improved management of invasive lionfish in Belize’s fish replenishment zones, with a focus on SWCMR, since the lionfish are decimating populations of native coral reef fish and invertebrates, reducing the reef’s resilience and threatening the livelihoods of the people who rely on it. All lessons learned from this experience, will be shared with the national Lionfish Working Group (LWG) to catalyze participatory planning, monitoring and control efforts in prioritized conservation areas across Belize.
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We appreciate your trust in us.
We´ll keep you posted on how this project is developed.
The MAR Fund Team.