Tiger Prawn Joins Lion Fish as Invasive Animal in Belize

It was in 2008 when the Belize Fisheries Department confirmed the first sighting of the invasive Lionfish in Belizean waters. The increasing numbers of the lionfish threatening our ecosystem lead to numerous projects and tournaments to get rid of the invasive lionfish. Now there is another species that joins this creature in Belizean waters – the Tiger Prawn.

Mr. Severo Guerreo Sr, (a local San Pedro fisherman) caught a black tiger prawn shrimp in Shark Ray’s fore-reef. It’s an invasive species found in the Gulf of Mexico. This black tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) in particular weighed 8.6 ounces and had a length of 30 cm in size. According to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve Office, last month, Lyndon Rodney, Fishery Officer had shared an image of this same species at the Punta Gorda fish market. This proves that this species has made it further south into the Caribbean.

The Tiger Prawn is originally from Australia and Southeast Asia. This shrimp was accidentally released from a research facility near South Carolina into the wild in 1988 and had spread south to Florida in 1990. According to the institute for the Study of Invasive Species, Tiger Prawns are aggressive feeders like the Lion Fish, and the specie is also a known carrier of 16 different viruses that can kill native shrimp species. The plus side is that they are preyed upon by several species and are very tasty.

The invasive crustaceans can offer up to 13 inches and 11 ounces of deliciousness, females can reach approximately 33 centimeters (13 in) long, but are typically 25–30 cm (10–12 in) long and weight 200–320 grams (7–11 oz); males are slightly smaller at 20–25 cm (8–10 in) long and weighing 100–170 g (3.5–6.0 oz).

Tiger prawns are voracious predators and are known to harbor numerous diseases that could spread to white and brown shrimp, oysters, and crabs. Tiger prawns could join the list of invasive species humans seek to control by eating, like wild pigs and lionfish.

So if you happen to come across these creatures don’t throw them back into the water, capture it and enjoy its deliciousness!

Tiger Prawn Joins Lion Fish as Invasive Animal in Belize

Tiger Prawn Joins Lion Fish as Invasive Animal in BelizeTiger Prawn Joins Lion Fish as Invasive Animal in Belize

spearinglionfish

The fight to combat the invasive lionfish (which is decimating coral reef fish domains in the Caribbean) took another step in the right direction when the Cayman Islands Tourism Association announced a new lionfish-spearing contest that doubles as a publicity push to increase demand for the fish from local restaurants – Restaurants And Watersports Operators To Partner For Major Lionfish Culling Effort.The tournament, planned for April 26 – 27 on Grand Cayman Island by grocer Foster Food Market , also involves local water sports outfitters.

We’ve blogged about the lionfish plague a lot, and recently, about our own meager efforts to jump start a new craze for lionfish cuisine. But this moves the effort to an entirely new level. Yeah! Go (away) lionfish!!

‘Beautiful, healthy reefs are critical to our dive tourism in the Cayman Islands,’ states Jane van der Bol, executive director for the Cayman Islands Tourism Association ‘By pairing watersports operators and their clients with local restaurants that want to serve lionfish, this event aims to create a self-fulfilling supply and demand situation for this delicious fish. In the process, Cayman’s marine environment benefits!’

Will the conch season in Belize have to be shortened? Might we need to control the amount of conch that we eat year per year? These are a couple of questions that Belize, including other Caribbean nations, might have to consider as Caribbean ministers will come together to discuss a conch petition for CARICOM during Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2012 in Antigua and Barbuda.

A United States petition submitted this March to list the Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) as a threatened or endangered species will be a priority item on the agenda of the upcoming 3rd Special Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).

Over fishing of the Queen Conch might be posing a problem to the survival of the species and such petition could limit our consumption of conch if the animal becomes labeled as threatened and endangered.

The Queen Conch is a delicacy in Belize and its meat is highly demanded in dishes which include ceviche, conch fritters, conch soup, conch chowder, conch burgers, conch steak, conch bits and BBQ conch. Even if it means eating a little less conch for the season, protecting the specie and extending the closed season for it to procreate, might be the best action to take in order for us to enjoy all things conch for years to come.

Long Caye bonefish school

OK, it’s not nice to brag, but surely you’ll forgive me for talking about our private bonefish school.

The way I understand it, bonefish do not normally school. But we have a huge bonefish school, they live right off our shore, and they have been there for years. Just 20 feet from our shore! We snorkel with them, we fish them (catch and release), we practically have names for each one. Yes, we are proud.

When you join us for a Belize vacation, you have a lot of sports to choose from. But every week there’s at least one person who came just to fish. There is no need to hire a guide, fishermen just wade in! It’s particularly gratifying because sometimes we see professional fishing guides charging $350/day who bring their guests over 35 miles by boat just to fish a few feet from our shore. In the photo above you can see our bonefish school, 1-2000 bonefish just waiting for you!

You can wade in, fish from our dock, or use our fishing kayaks. Whatever suits your style.

Last week we served lionfish on our Belize island. Our island is in a Marine Reserve, and fishing is prohibited by guests except for catch-and-release sportfishing. But lionfish are the exception. Lionfish are a Pacific fish and only recently got introduced to the Caribbean. They have no predators are are voracious eaters. They are a problem. We have blogged about this before: http://belizeadventure.com/2011/07/lionfish-an-invasive-species-in-belize/

We are doing our part, and dang it was tasty!

Lionfish for breakfast!

I ran across this excellent travel blog, Pebble Pedalers, written by two young men as they rode their bikes, self-supported, 17,000 miles  through 15 countries—from Prudhoe Bay, the northernmost point accessible by road in Alaska, to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of Argentina. But it seems they did a lot of fly fishing along the way, especially when they got to Belize.

If you love fly fishing, you’ll want to read their first-hand account of fishing on the reef in Belize (the section on Belize starts half-way down the page at the section titled Tarpon Caye Lodge. Here’s a sample about their pursuit of their most difficult prey, the permit:

“Casting to permit is like taking a freethrow to win the game with one second on the clock. The pressure is always on, you have one shot and if you miss your chance you replay the scenario over in your head a thousand times. God it is addicting.”

We have a resident very-hard-to-catch permit that we see snorkeling near our island all of the time. Fishermen go crazy trying to catch him… well, on one of the last trips of the season Jeff Griswold of North Bend, Washington caught him and he’s got photos to prove it! Jeff came in December of 2010 on our Adventure Island at Glover’s Reef trip, and then came back again 5 months later. I guess that permit just swimming around loose was bugging him! It’s catch-and-release only at the Glover’s Reef National Marine Reserve, so he’s still there swimming around if any of you want to try your hand at him.

Fishing for permit in Belize

Permit fishing in Belize