combating the invasive lionfish


An invasive species is a non-indigenous organism that adversely affects natural habitats and bioregions. Invasive introductions often result from careless human activity whether intentional or accidental, the results of which are likely to cause economic, environmental, and ecological harm. While all species compete to survive, invasive species appear to have specific traits or combinations of specific traits that allow them to out-compete native species.


Sometimes they simply have the ability to grow and reproduce more rapidly than native species; other times it involves a complex set of traits and interactions. Common invasive species traits include: Fast growth rates, rapid/frequent reproduction, high dispersal ability, phenotypic plasticity (the ability to alter one’s growth form to suit current conditions), tolerance of a wide range of environmental conditions (generalist), and the ability to live off of a wide range of food types (generalist).

Invasive species often coexist with native species for an extended time, and gradually the superior competitive ability of an invasive species becomes apparent as its population grows larger and denser and it adapts to its new location. (Note: Because the introduction of invasives is not a naturally occurring process, it does not fall under the umbrella of natural selection or survival of the fittest). With the introduction of a species into an ecosystem that can multiply and spread faster than the native species, the balance is changed and the resources that would have been used by the native species are now utilized by an invader. This impacts the ecosystem and changes its composition of organisms and their use of available resources.

In an effort to reduce the destructive impact of the invasive Pterois volitans (lionfish) on the coral reef ecosystem of Roatan, the Roatan Marine Park has employed a proactive stance, directly engaging the local and visiting community to control the proliferation of this species. The RMP Invasive Lionfish Control Program focuses on the dissemination of information through educational workshops that cover topics such as; lionfish ecology, potential impacts of lionfish infestations both environmentally and economically, first-aid treatment, and immediate and future goals of the program.

Spearfishing is illegal in Honduras, however with a Roatan Marine Park issued Bay Islands Lionfish Spearing License, visiting and local divers and free divers are legally allowed to use a Hawaiian sling spear of xx length to hunt lionfish. We prefer divers to be at least Advanced Open Water Divers or experienced Open Water Divers with many dives under their belt and good buoyancy control. It is important to ensure that we don’t damage the reef while spearing lionfish who tend to hide in its crevices. For non divers we do offer snorkeling and freediving licences however please note that your licence will not be allowed for diving. As part of the course we will take you on a short dive or snorkel to practice shooting the spear with underwater targets. The course takes about an hour and costs $60 which includes your license and Hawaiian sling spear.

Please do your part to support our local community's fishermen and businesses who are helping us take on this threat to our ecosystem by supporting local restaurants who serve lionfish. Lionfish is delicious and by eating them you are helping to save the reef. Or check out the list of restaurants that we know currently serving them.  By requesting lionfish in restaurants you are helping to drive an interest in supplying them. Lionfish hunting is labor intensive and costly work and sometimes it is not possible to meet market demand, so please be patient if a restaurant doesn’t have enough stock.

Our workshop usually takes place twice a week on Monday and Wednesday at 4 pm in our office in Half Moon Bay, West End. Weather conditions must be tolerable for diving and snorkeling and a minimum of 3 people must be signed up for the course to take place. We are happy to accommodate any special requests for groups of four or more who would prefer a different location, date, or time. Please get in touch with us at or our facebook page or stop by our office to confirm the course is taking place. Be sure to watch our informational video before attending the workshop. The lionfish workshop costs $70.00 a person, spear and license included ($10 discount if you own a RMP bracelet).

It is mandatory to watch the video before attending the workshop.

In an effort to reduce the destructive impact of the invasive lionfish on the marine ecosystem of Roatan, RMP is working with the community to control the proliferation of this species throughout our reefs. The RMP Invasive Lionfish Control Program conducts weekly educational and practical spearfishing workshops to prepare divers for their first catch.