Lionfish culling project in Belize

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2016: 29 Oct
2017: 24 Feb, 25 Apr, 19 Jul, 7 Sep, 23 Oct, 8 Dec
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Volunteer travel - what's it all about

Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, or on a gap year or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you! Volunteers tend to have a sense of adventure, and come from a range of different backgrounds and from all over the world.
Edward Abbey said 'sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul'.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Lionfish culling project in Belize


This volunteer expedition is focused on the collection of meaningful data which is used to develop sustainable local environmental management plans for the unique reef systems. These plans focus on improving the quality of life of the local communities who depend on these marine resources, while maintaining the biological diversity and productivity of the reefs.
Every effort is made to minimise the environmental impact of our expeditions. At our remote dive camp in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve electricity is provided by a generator and this is limited to a few hours per day to reduce fuel use. In addition diving activity is organised to reduce boat time and fuel use, for example, wherever possible diving and training occurs at near shore sites and multi-tank dives are used to reduce the need for return trips to base to collect new dive tanks. Volunteers are requested to bring only bio-degradable products, and to minimise the amount of packaged goods that are brought into the marine reserve. We operate a buy local food policy that reduces packaging, carbon miles and ensures that volunteers get local food that contributes more to local economies.


Through our presence in the area and through discussions with local fishers we came to understand the issue of the invasive lionfish, which has no native predators outside its original home, preys on juvenile reef fish and therefore poses a huge threat to Belize’s fisheries. One of the main focuses of our research in Belize is investigating the impact they’re having, finding solutions to reducing this impact, raising awareness of the issue and improving the lives of local communities affected by it. In order to maximise economic output from Blue Ventures’ lionfish activity, we have organised lionfish jewellery training workshops to teach communities how to utilise the removed spines and fins, which have now trained more than 30 jewellers and Sarteneja now has 7 active lionfish jewellers.

As a result of our educational work about the lionfish, fishers are now catching and selling the high quality meat to restaurants where previously there was no financial incentive to do so. In 2010 no restaurants were serving lionfish, our last survey found that Lionfish is now being served in 9% of restaurants in the country. These activities diversify and increase income to fishers as well as enhance our conservation efforts.

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