As an acting good steward to the reef and dive professional, hunting lionfish has turned into one of my favorite underwater activities. I used to only hunt in my free time, but recently an increasing number of guests have requested we provide it as an excursion. Teaching others to safely and efficiently cull the lionfish population is an important part of a long-term solution.

As an alpha with basic primal instincts, hunting lionfish is the perfect outlet for me to channel some of my savagery in a positive manner. Who knew that protecting the reefs from an exploding population of invasive species (the lionfish) could also offer the challenge and excitement I’ve not known since my military days? And did I mention that hunting lionfish comes with the added perk of yielding a mild, light, flaky, fish that can be prepared in a number of tasty ways?

All Salty Endeavors team members, like the military, share the belief that in order to win at anything, it starts with a clear objective, good training, and ongoing development of better tactics and technology. In that same spirit, we will apply military tactics to the task at hand.

So How Do We Win Hunting Lionfish?

Hunting lionfish is comparable to conducting multiple military operations (missions) with a single purpose (primary objective) in mind. Our primary objective is to encourage healthy reef systems that promote sustained aquatic life and will thrive into the unforeseeable future. What guidelines make missions successful?

Here are some of what I see as key considerations that will yield optimum results when hunting lionfish:

  • Inflict minimal to no damage (preferred) on the reef system
  • Harm no other forms of aquatic life
  • Exercise good judgement by basing decisions on the greater good, and in best interest of the reef system
  • Demonstrate role model behavior at all times
  • Spread awareness and throughout the dive community
  • Be a knowledgeable resource that others can learn from
  • Make ourselves, and others, masters at hunting lionfish, and lead by example!

After any good “mission”, I always like to review the positives and negatives that can be improved upon. Could I have been more efficient in some aspect? Did I adversely impact the reef and its residents in any way? If the answer is yes to either, how can it be applied to future situations encountered.

After the debrief, nothing to do but maintain our equipment and look forward to the next hunt. Or is there? My main hope is but to use this forum as another way to learn and improve. It is probably worth mentioning that practice is the best way to improve at anything, but this may have to hold you until your next visit. With our objective and parameters more clearly defined, we can now explore tactics and equipment in our future Salty Endeavors discussions. All questions and input are welcome in the spirit of positive growth. Safe salties to all!

*** Editor’s Notes – First I’d like to thank Aries Burns, one of our staff SCUBA Instructors, for his first contribution to the Salty Endeavors blog. Look for future contributions from Aries ranging from topics from Continuing Education to Equipment Techniques. Secondly, hunting Lionfish in the Cozumel Marine Park is to be done by qualified personnel only. All guests hunting expeditions and educational seminars is to be conducted solely outside the Cozumel Marine Park in strict accordance with park regulations. ***