Since their arrival on Utila’s reefs in July 2009, UCME’s lionfish awareness and capture programme has been instrumental in providing information and awareness to the local community, as well as training a network of divers on how to safely capture and kill lionfish.
Part of the outreach initiative has included regular community workshops providing information on lionfish biology and the current status of the Caribbean wide invasion as well as awareness posters for both the dive community and local fishers. Disseminating this information to the local community explains why they are a potentially serious threat to local reefs and fisheries and consequently why it is important to target and control them.
In addition, the centre is the island’s coordinating authority for the national lionfish programme through an agreement with DIGEPESCA (The Honduran Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture). Through this programme the centre provides training workshops on how to use “Hawaiian Slings” as a control method to safely and effectively kill lionfish. The use of the slings to control lionfish is tightly regulated as a specific exception since spear fishing has been banned in Honduras.