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Strategy

From reef to plate - Belize combats the lionfish

With its venomous sting and voracious appetite, the lionfish is one of the biggest threats to the world’s second-largest coral barrier reef in Belize. Now, human intervention seems the only way to fight the danger.

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Project goal: Combating the invasive lionfish in the Caribbean in a bid to protect the biodiversity in coral reefs

Size: The Belize Barrier Reef off the coast of Belize. Stretching over an area of 960 square kilometers, it’s the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere

Biological significance: The Belize Barrier Reef is one of the most diverse ecosystems of the world and is a UNESCO world heritage site, but one that’s considered to be in danger

The red lionfish is an eye-catching species. But it’s also dangerous and predatory. Its long spikes are venomous and can cause painful stings. As a result, it’s no longer hunted by fishermen in the Caribbean. The invasive species has a huge appetite, eating its way through the marine reef life. It now poses one of the greatest threats to the Belize Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest coral reef system after the Australian Great Barrier Reef. The marine conservation organization "Blue Ventures" has taken up the fight against the lionfish. It’s trying to create a market for the fish, which is surprisingly delicious. The group is working on persuading fishermen to catch the species without getting stung and teaching them the right handling and processing techniques. And, they’re also trying to convince restaurant owners to offer the delicacy on their menu.

A film by Katja Döhne

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