Free dives on offer in monthly lionfish cull

| 15/01/2012

sam-with-lion-fish (254x300).jpg(CNS):As part of the islands collaborative effort to fight the increasing numbers of lionfish in Cayman waters Red Sail Sports are beginning a monthly one tank dive on the last Saturday of the every month for volunteers who are already trained to catch the marine invader. Starting this month (28 January) the dives will be free of charge and the fish caught will be cleaned and delivered to the fish market at Foster’s Food Fair on Monday morning where the supermarket hopes it will become a regular choice for local cooks. “If weather conditions permit, the first dives will hunt for Lionfish on the lesser-dived reefs of the island’s North Side and East End where they have thrived,” said Rod McDowall Red Sail Sports Operations Manager.

“For some time now operators have been culling the reefs on the West Side where Grand Cayman’s most popular dive sites are located,” he added.

Lionfish arrived in Cayman waters about three years ago and they continue to multiply and threaten smaller reef fish. Originally from the Pacific Ocean and popular as aquarium fish, lionfish are colorful with venomous spikey tentacles. First spotted in Florida waters in 1985, the population of the voracious predator has exploded in recent years and spread throughout the Caribbean.

To control this marine pest, conservation groups are encouraging fishermen and divers to catch lionfish and eat them as the filet is light, delicately flavored and very good eating. Fosters Food Fair has contributed $20,000 to the cause for dive expenses and a portion of the fish sold at the market will go back into an operational fund to keep the lionfish dives going. A lionfish cookbook featuring 45 recipes is now available.

The one-tank dives will take place the last weekend of each month, and they are free for volunteers who are properly trained to spear the lionfish or catch them with nets.  Lionfish “spotters” are also needed. 

Red Sail Sports will provide all necessary equipment for the roundup. To sign up for the lionfish dive or to know more about getting certified to hunt and spear them, call Red Sail Sports at 949-8745.  For more information call the Red Sail Sports main office at 623.5965, e-mail: or visit  Spearing of any other fish on Scuba in the Cayman Islands is prohibited and a violation of the Cayman Islands Marine Conservation Laws.

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