Waitt Institute

Waitt Institute Hosts 3rd Lionfish Tournament on Barbuda

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week marked the end of the July Lionfish Tournament on the Caribbean island, Barbuda. This was the third tournament hosted by the Waitt Institute to remove the invasive lionfish from coastal waters around Barbuda.
Over the course of the month of July, Barbudan fishermen caught and killed 56 lionfish for the tournament. Sizes of fish ranged from 22-40cm. Fish were brought to Barbuda Fisheries for an official count Friday afternoon held by Barbuda Fisheries staff and the Waitt Institute. Each team was awarded $1,250 EC and a winning plaque. The event also included a demonstration for how to safely prepare lionfish, followed by a free tasting of lionfish.

Andy teaches a fisherman how to remove the spines from the lion fish. (Waitt Institute Photo)
Andy teaches a fisherman how to remove the spines from the lion fish. (Waitt Institute Photo)

“The lionfish tournament is a great way to encourage local fishermen to go out and catch lionfish as it is beneficial for all of us in the future,” said Rishma Mansingh, Barbuda Fisheries Officer. “Lionfish are invading the ocean and this could turn into a major disaster.”
Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are native to the Indo-Pacific region, but have been in the Caribbean since the mid 1990’s, and have been present in the coastal waters of Barbuda for several years. Lionfish are slow moving, but voracious hunters capable eating of eating so many juvenile reef fish that the populations of grouper, snapper, and other key fisheries species can plummet. Lionfish grow quickly and females can produce 10,000-20,000 eggs every 3-4 days year-round. Lionfish have no known predators in the Atlantic/Caribbean region.
“Throughout the region, lionfish culling has proven an effective means of managing, though not eliminating, populations on Caribbean reefs,” said Andy Estep, Waitt Institute Science Manager. “It’s great to see fishermen of Barbuda actively protecting the island’s fishing grounds to safeguard their reef fish catches from the effects of this invasive predator.”
For Barbuda, the implications of lionfish establishing a community within the lagoon are potentially very serious. The lagoon serves a vital ecological role as a nursery habitat for fish and lobsters, both of which key fisheries, but also a common component of the lionfish diet.

Additional information and resources:
Lionfish Factsheet: http://bit.ly/WI-lionfish
Waitt Institute: http://www.WaittInstitute.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WaittInstitute
Instagram: https://instagram.com/waittinstitute/
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Tumblr: http://waittinstitute.tumblr.com/
Dropbox folder with press photos: bit.ly/WI-PressReleasePhotos

Waitt Institute: The Waitt Institute endeavors to ensure ecologically, economically, and culturally sustainable use of ocean resources. The Institute partners with governments committed to developing and implementing comprehensive, science-based, community-driven solutions for sustainable ocean management. Our goal is to benefit coastal communities while restoring fish populations and habitats. Our approach is to engage stakeholders, provide the tools needed to design locally appropriate policies, facilitate the policymaking process, and build capacity for effective implementation and long-term success.

Third Annual Blue Halo Kids Ocean Camp on Barbuda

Waitt Institute Phot of the Barbuda Campers.
Waitt Institute Phot of the Barbuda Campers.

WASHINGTON, DC – The Waitt Institute sponsored the third annual Blue Halo Kids Ocean Camp last week on Barbuda as part of Blue Halo Barbuda. Thirty-six students, ages 7-13, participated in ocean and conservation-themed activities, games, and field trips to build a stronger appreciation and understanding of the waters around their island.
The weeklong camp was led by Stephanie Roach, Waitt Institute Program Manager, and focused on ocean conservation topics and marine biology and ecosystems around Barbuda. The camp also included three snorkeling field trips to local beaches, a boat trip to learn about the Magnificent Frigatebird Sanctuary in the Codrington Lagoon, and a beach cleanup at Two Foot Bay.
“I strongly believe that the Blue Halo camp was effective and beneficial to the students as it helped to teach them how they can conserve and protect the natural resources found in and around Barbuda,” said Cynthia Yearwood, sixth grade science teacher at Holy Trinity School on Barbuda. “The kids were completely engaged while doing something educational.”
Since the start of the Blue Halo Initiative in 2012, the Waitt Institute has hosted a kids’ ocean summer camp every summer on Barbuda. These camps get students out of the classroom and encourage hands-on activities. After introducing ocean science topics in a morning session, students take field trips every afternoon to a different part of the island for activities such as snorkeling, beach cleanups, and playing ocean conservation-themed games about the ocean, in the ocean.

Waitt Institute Phot of the Barbuda Campers
Waitt Institute Phot of the Barbuda Campers

In addition to summer ocean camps, the Waitt Institute participates and contributes to marine science and ocean conservation lessons taught during the school year on all three Blue Halo Initiative sites: Barbuda, Montserrat, and Curaçao. The Waitt Institute’s education goal is to develop and enhance an understanding of the ocean, sustainable use of ocean resources, and to foster a generation of ocean leaders and stakeholders by building lasting relationships and collaborate with government officials and educators.
“It’s exciting to share my enthusiasm for the ocean with kids, and to teach them about the relationship between their island and the ocean,” said Roach. “The camps are designed to get kids excited about the ocean and share that excitement with their peers, and also with their parents.”
For more information on the Kids Ocean Camp in Barbuda, and other Blue Halo camps to take place this summer, see the National Geographic blog post, “Ocean Education – Let the Games Begin!