A Silent Threat to Our Oceans

In the depths of the Western Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, a silent invader is wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems: the lionfish. Known for their striking appearance with vibrant stripes and venomous spines, lionfish are far from harmless. Their rapid spread and lack of natural predators have made them a significant threat to these underwater environments.

Where Are Lionfish a Problem?

Lionfish are primarily causing environmental damage in three key regions:

    • Western Atlantic Ocean: Starting from the southeastern coast of the United States, lionfish have proliferated down through the East Coast waters into the Caribbean.
    • Gulf of Mexico: This region has seen a substantial rise in lionfish populations, negatively impacting the local marine life and habitats.
    • Caribbean Sea: The Caribbean has been heavily infested, with lionfish now found in nearly every corner, from the Bahamas to the Lesser Antilles.

How Are Lionfish a Problem?

Lionfish are highly reproductive and have no significant natural predators in these regions. This combination allows them to dominate local ecosystems quickly. Their presence leads to several ecological issues:

    • Decline in Native Fish Populations: Lionfish are voracious predators, consuming a wide variety of small fish and invertebrates. This predation reduces the populations of native species, some of which are crucial for maintaining the health of coral reefs.
    • Coral Reef Damage: By preying on herbivorous fish that keep algae in check, lionfish indirectly contribute to the overgrowth of algae on coral reefs, which can smother and kill the corals.

Check out the map of how the LionFish has been spreading over the years


Despite the challenges, there is hope. Wasteless World is working with multiple groups and projects to manage lionfish populations through sustainable practices, supporting local fishermen and utilizing every part of the captured fish to fund research and development, ensuring no waste. 

By raising awareness and promoting sustainable fishing, we can help mitigate the impact of this invasive species and protect our precious marine ecosystems.

The Most Sustainable Meat in the Caribbean

Lionfish fillets, with their mild, sweet, and slightly buttery flavour, are often compared to cod, snapper, or grouper. Enjoy them fried, sautéed, blackened, or in dishes like ceviche, nuggets, or dumplings. For those looking to help the environment without giving up meat, lionfish is an excellent option.

We help participants obtain necessary equipment and secure fair-market contracts. This initiative boosts family incomes, supports local businesses with fresh, locally caught fish, and protects local reefs and biodiversity from this harmful species.

Fashion for Conservation

Wasteless World motivates environmental action by turning participation into profit. The Lionfish Project connects Indigenous fishers with local vendors to harvest and sell lionfish and their by-products, like our stunning jewelry.

“If there’s one thing humans are really good at, it’s eradicating species for money.” This quote from – D.T. Maxx is sadly true, but what if we apply it to invasive species disrupting the natural balance?

-The Beginning-

Prior to the birth of the W.W. Lionfish Project in 2021, there was little or no financial incentive to catch Lionfish.  W.W. Conducts educational sessions to inform Indigenous fishermen of the economic benefits of harvesting Lionfish, including direct profit from selling lionfish catches, and protecting the Grouper, Lobster & Snapper stocks as the lionfish also consume these cornerstone species from which the fishermen primarily derive their livelihoods.

We teamed up with the Rotary club to conduct promotional campaigns to inform local restaurateurs and grocers of the potential culinary and monetary value of offering this delicious, locally sourced fish.  Challenging at first, soon we found that the demand outweighed the supply and we had to re-engage with our Fishermen to understand how they could increase their Lionfish harvest.

The need of a boat motor because fishermen were limited by the distance and speed in which they could harvest Lionfish using the equipment they had on hand to reach more distant reefs and bring those catches to market they desperately needed to motorize one of their larger cayucos (A traditional boat used by locals). In April 2022, our month-long campaign, featuring two lionfish tournaments, successfully raised funds to purchase a 250hp Yamaha outboard motor powered by propane gas, benefiting from government subsidies, making it an eco-friendly and cost-effective choice.

Maintaining their catch before resale was the next challenge for our fishermen, especially without electricity in their island communities. This limited them to harvesting and delivering only what they could in a single day. As a result, they often had to leave lionfish and return later to harvest them, which was not ideal given that lionfish can eat up to five times their body weight in a day. To address this, in August 2022 we provided one of the core communities with a chest freezer. This allowed them to keep their catch fresh, significantly improving their efficiency.

A gasoline-powered generator in use for our freezer proved too expensive. We explored a propane gas freezer, but the cheapest model is USD 1300. A professional audit revealed that the salt air would quickly damage the propane system’s most expensive parts. Instead, a solar battery system with a DC freezer is a more efficient long-term solution, requiring less maintenance and lower running costs. However, this option requires a higher initial investment of about USD 4000 per fishing community which could significantly increase over time.

-The Challenging Future-

W.W.’s educational initiatives have effectively raised awareness about the Lionfish invasion and its solutions. However, local demand for Lionfish relies heavily on the tourist high season, which is not year-round. Typically targeting highly valued and easier-to-catch lobster and other fish, the most challenging and costly aspect of this project is developing a scalable solution to incentivize skilled local freediving fishermen, dispersed across the archipelago, to coordinate their lionfish harvest for freshness and quality control.

After discussions with local commercial fishermen supplying fresh seafood across Panama, we discovered several challenges. Relying on various individuals from each indigenous community for consistent and quality-controlled processing is complicated, unstable, and costly. Additionally, setting up solar, battery, and freezer systems in each community is prohibitively expensive. There were too many potential pitfalls. Until we can research all possibilities to ensure a cost-effective system for the necessary quality control for international shipment of the meat and considering the lack of electricity, signal, or internet amongst the island communities, challenges of communication and maintaining fresh meat complicates logistics. 

Understanding the risk, before investing in increasing supply, we found a U.S. company that will buy 100% of our surplus Lionfish year-round, covering our operational costs if managed correctly. Exporting meat requires strict adherence to guidelines. To facilitate this, we need either our own certified processing plant or a partnership with a local certified seafood depot. This will allow us to focus on efficiently capturing fresh Lionfish.

Lionfish cannot be caught with nets, lines, or powerful spearguns because these methods threaten the valuable reefs we aim to protect. The only effective way to harvest them is by diving with a close-range Hawaiian sling-style pole spear.

-First Stage-

We have found that the logistics involved in bringing fresh Lionfish meat to the market is a massive challenge to say the least, but our success in producing and selling our beautiful jewellery locally begs the question, what if we focused more on that and maybe even donate the fish to feed the hungry? 

On average, fishermen need approximately $1.50 USD per fish to make their efforts worthwhile. By utilising the fins from just one fish, we can create multiple pieces of stunning jewellery. We've already perfected the production process, knowing the exact costs and time involved, and can even produce these incredible pieces without electricity.

Our vision includes teaching indigenous women in each community to craft the jewellery. By paying them per piece and establishing a steady market, we can afford to donate the fish meat to the communities. This eliminates the need to sell the fish meat for profit and manage the costly logistics of keeping it fresh.

This would provide a nutritious food source for the communities and generate a sustainable income stream for both the fishermen and the local women of the indigenous communities.

-Second Stage-

The success of this stage depends significantly on the achievements of stage one. 

If we become successful in our mission of population control, and we capture a surplus that exceeds local consumption, the numbers will justify establishing the logistics to export the meat to consistent markets, such as in the United States or China.

Achieving financial success in the first stage without relying on meat sales will facilitate this expansion.

We invite you to support our progress by becoming a Patreon Supporter, you can also learn more and follow along through our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, simply subscribing to these channels is one cost-free way you can show your support.

Together we can turn problems into solutions and help people and the environment at the same time.