The Regional Activity Centre for the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife for the Wider Caribbean Region
Caribbean Environment Program
DEAL Guadeloupe
United Nations Environment Programme
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Coordinated strategy to prevent and control invasive species Pterois volitans (lionfish) by professional fishing in Guadeloupe , St-Martin and St- Barthelemy

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Synthesis of the discussions during the Lionfish workshop, 10-11th July 2013 - Gosier, Guadeloupe (FWI)

Rapporteur : N. Maslach, Natural Reserve of St Martin

The various presentations by the speakers have pointed out that in general awareness has been raised in all Caribbean islands with regard to the issue of the invasion by the Lionfish.

The presentations made by participants from the islands that have faced the invasion the longest have shown that control strategies can be efficient and that fisheries are a key aspect, with the consumption of the lionfish.

However, stakeholders are not involved at the same level in each island. Sanitary, economic and cultural issues are thus addressed in different ways depending on the stakeholders that are involved and the islands they are from.

Common aspects to all the presentations made can be noted, such as the involvement of local professional fishermen in the fight against the invasive lionfish, and the need to have them involved.

It can be now considered that the issue of the invasive lionfish and the expected ecological and economic risk are largely known by marine stakeholders, including professional fishermen, MPA managers, public agencies and tourism operators.

One thing is sure by now, the invasion is real and occurs currently in all Caribbean waters, the species is present in the entire water column from 0 to 200 and more meters deep.

Its eradication is therefore impossible.

Control in all possible approaches (fishing and trade, fishing competition, MPA management, hunting campaigns) must therefore continue and be better structured, using lessons learnt from successful experiences in the Antilles.

Session 1: Presentation of the results of the studies on ciguatera
Moderator: Nicolas Diaz, Fisheries Committe Guadeloupe
Rapporteur: Nicolas Maslach, Natural Reserve of Saint-Martin

  • Session started with the presentation of the studies for the Fisheries Committee of Guadeloupe
  • Discussion on methodologies used
  • Possible uncertainties, characteristics of the sampling – results and consequences
  • Any approaches of risk assessment in other territories?
  • What angles for complimentary analyses and research?
  • Need to work closer in the Caribbean context

Recommendations from the participants for this session

  • Taking into account the spatial and temporal variability of ciguatera;
  • Taking into account the actual consumption of the species in Caribbean islands, and possible sanitary risks associated, in particular in the North of the Lesser Antilles ;
  • Taking into account the loss in income that a prohibition of the fishing of lionfish can represent for professional fishermen
  • Taking into account the need to have the professional fishing sector involved in the fight against the invasion by the lionfish;

It appears essential and top-priority to continue scientific research on the risks of ciguatoxicity at a regional scale.

Nonetheless, given the funds that are needed to realize these studies at the regional scale, the needs of the Caribbean countries must be heard and regional and international authorities and institutions must be approached so that complimentary analyses be funded in order to :

  •  Assess the risk of ciguatoxicity in the Caribbean depending on fishing areas, seasons, and for all species that are consumed including lionfish ;
  •  Correlate levels of ciguatera and symptom appearance ;
  •  Study the feasibility of a screening test acknowledged by all;
  •  Have a regional lab at disposal for analyses ;
  •  Study and valuate traditional knowledge (fishermen).

Session 2 : prefiguration of commercialization and related communication
Moderator: Hélène Souan, SPAW-RAC, Ruben Torres Reef Check Dominican Republic
Rapporteur: Fabien Védie, Division of Environment Martinique

Introduction with the example of the Dominican Republic

  • Tailored communication campaign, important human resources
  • Main target : top level restaurants (and supermarkers)
  • Private sponsors
  • Self-regulation of selling prices
  • Success > offer no longer sufficient

Ideas of the North of the Lesser Antilles

Once the issue with ciguatera (chlodecone) has been solved
Assets :

Undisputable gustative quality

Preliminary work by the fishermen to promote the product in more or less restricted circles

  • Assess the available stocks to quantify the potential offer and evaluate the scale of the promotion to be made
  • Have statistics available (information system on fisheries)
  • Approach donors and institutions in charge of promoting products in the food sector in view of promotion (France Agrimer)
  • Contact communication professionals
  • Train professional fishermen on fish preparation before selling it
  • Promote high trading prices
  • Explore the possibility of rewards to fishermen for each fish caught for territories where commercialization is impossible

Session 3 : involvement of Fisheries and general strategy for FWI (including derbies-tournaments)
Moderator : Lionel Reynal, French Institute for Research on the Sea and COPACA
Rapporteur : Jean-Philippe Maréchal (OMMM – NGO « Agency for Marine Habitat in Martinique »)

  • Identification of no-fishing areas that are potential reservoirs for lionfish (MPA, areas with chlordecone, harbour areas, beaches etc)
  • Compared yields of extraction techniques (costs-benefits)
  • Complimentary methods and stakeholders in space and time. What role for professional fishermen with respect to other stakeholders that are involved : MPA mangers, dive operators
  • Tournaments as an alternative on high-risk areas and protection areas, issue with associated insurances (as per french law), examples by Fernando Simal and Ruben Torres
  • Involvement of fishermen : what needs and complementarity with other sectors, what consequences on fishermen’s habits
  • Presentation on tournaments – Fishing of lionfish is going to change the habits of professional fishermen : trainings to organize, adapted equipment – exchanges with neighbour islands – role of and support from the SPAW-RAC (including participation in GCFI)

Presentation to the media

Martinique / Guadeloupe : possible consumption (chlordecone) ?
> Ensure the promotion of the « lionfish » product by involving communication professionals

Northern Islands
> Ciguatera area : need of a study to

  • Specify the geographic distribution of potential high-risk areas
  • Identify the most appropriate fishing techniques to catch lionfish
  • Adapt legislation to better take the risk into account

All the presentations and conclusions of the workshop soon available on


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