Most famous for their ornamental inclusion in home aquariums, the lionfish are non-native predators in the waters off of Belize. First introduced in 1985 to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean by government officials in Florida, lionfish have rapidly surged to become one of the dominant species in the warm waters of Belize.
Also known as zebrafish, firefish, red lionfish, peacock lionfish, scorpion volitans, butterfly cod, and devil firefish, lionfish have been long considered dangerous pests by the fishing industry. Now, forward-thinking conservationists in Belize have used innovative techniques to take advantage of the lionfish’s ruggedness and resistance to native predators.
Today, visitors to Belize can participate in licensed spearfishing and rod fishing expeditions to thin the numbers of lionfish that thrive in the warm offshore waters along Belize’s Caribbean coast. Thinning the numbers of lionfish in Belizean waters helps protect fragile marine populations, including the iconic conchs that are used in a number of traditional dishes. Commercial fisherman are also beginning to process lionfish catches as seafood after being granted clearance by the FDA for sale in the United States.
Originally from the waters of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, lionfish have been spotted as far north as Long Island, New York and as far south as Belize. Lionfish have been documented as preying on more than 50 species of fish while using their unique fins and coloration to discourage would-be predators. Lionfish are slow but elegant swimmers, delivering a venomous poison via their spines that can kill a human being if left untreated.
Lionfish can adapt to a number of diverse marine environments, including seagrass beds, artificial reefs, coral reefs, hard bottom bodies of water, and mangrove forests from depths between 1 and 300 feet.
Named for a Maya term meaning “beautiful sea,” Chabil Mar resort located on the Caribbean shores of the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize is conveniently located close to some of the areas suitable for spotting and fishing for lionfish on the Belize Barrier Reef.
Chabil Mar organizes scuba diving and fishing tours to the Belize Barrier Reef, including for the purpose of interacting with or fishing for lionfish. Chabil Mar employs only experienced local fishermen to ensure that spearfishing and scuba diving in protected waters adheres to all environmental restrictions.
Whether you want to taste lionfish cooked in a variety of different ways by the Chabil Mar chef or simply want to do your part to protect the environment, catching lionfish is a great way to experience the beauty of the Belize Barrier Reef.
Visit our website chabilmarvillas.com for more information about Chabil Mar and Belize, and don’t hesitate to send us an email, or call US/CAN Toll Free: 1-866-417-2377, Local: (011-501) 523-3606, if you have questions or need help in planning a Belize vacation.