The Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans) is a beautiful but venomous fish from the scorpionfish family and its native habitat is in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It has spread throughout the Caribbean causing the decline of fish populations due to its lack of natural predators in this environment and because of its great adaptability.
Utila first sighted lionfish in 2009 and since 2011 BICA focuses on working with Utila's private sector, promotes education, monitoring and activities to reduce lionfish population around the island. BICA hosts two Lionfish Derbies per year with the help of the community, which gets involved in the cook offs we host after each derby, in which several local restaurants participate by making dishes with all the lionfish caught during the derbies. If you would like to sign up for a workshop to apply for the hunting license required in the Bay Islands, please contact us.
According to Honduran laws and regulations and the Lionfish Management Plan, in Utila, BICA Utila is the only authorized entity to license Lion Fish hunters, accredit them with a license and entrust the spear to them.
Sea turtle conservation.
There are three species of sea turtles that roam Utilian waters and only loggerheads and hawksbills are known to nest on our beaches. Since 1992, from June to October, BICA has monitored and patrolled nesting sites. Loggerheads and Hawksbills’ populations are, respectively, Vulnerable and Critically Endangered according to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Pollution, poaching, and incidental drownings in fishing gear have contributed to rapid population depletion. It was designed to cover data collection, the patrol and protection of nesting sites, and promotion of local environmental awareness through education and workshops. Throughout the life of the program, BICA has been able to ensure that thousands of baby sea turtles make it to the water every year.
This program was created to reduce pollution in the island and our reefs. Plastic debris in the oceans is an increasing concern because of the effects on wildlife and potential effects on humans. As plastic weathers, it breaks into tiny particles that even small marine invertebrates, such as zooplankton/krill which is the base of the marine food chain, ingest and entering the food web and ending on our plates.
We do small projects with children of the community to promote recycling among our youth. We are also making drinking glasses out of glass bottles as an initiative to reduce plastic cups use. We are continuously looking for new projects to get involved with.
We are constantly coordinating and supporting efforts with other local NGO’s, the Utila Beach Clean Up group and the community to keep Utila’s beaches clean and creating awareness on the use of single-use plastic.
This program’s main goal is to prevent the increase in threats to our resources and to conserve them. BICA’s park rangers work in company with the Honduran Navy, Municipal Police and Honduran Police to enforce laws and regulations that protect the natural resources. We focus on making sure all the fishing activity is done in strict accordance with the law, as well as the compliance of all the regulations established in the Bay Islands National Marine Park’s Management Plan. With this we increase the abundance of species and the health of our different ecosystems.
The MesoAmerican Reef or the MAR is the second largest barrier reef in the planet. It extends from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico down through Belize, Guatemala finishing on the Bay Islands in Honduras. The Bay Islands National Marine Park is the biggest Marine Protected Area in Honduras. Lately, our reef has been undergoing through many threats and its health has become one of the biggest concerns.
Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment or AGRRA: BICA collaborates with Healthy Reef Initiative and Coral Reef Alliance in the monitoring of the reef’s health every other year using this methodology that collects data from reef fish, benthos and coral to determine the state of the different sites and generate a Report Card.
Coral BleachWatch: BICA collaborates with HRI and CORAL in this monitoring effort made in the MAR Region with other partners in different Marine Protected Areas. During this monitoring we visit 10 different sites around the island and survey 200 colonies in each one, seeing the state of bleaching that these colonies may have.
Water Quality Monitoring: This one is carried out in 10 different sites of the island. This monitoring will help towards decision making in order to have the right wastewater treatment.
ECOME: BICA collaborates with ECOSUR and NOAA Institute in the post larval reef fish monitoring that takes place Regionally. This helps us assess the recruitment into coastal areas of larvae and post larvae (larval, postlarval and juvenile) stages of reef fish.
Every week, partnered with other conservation organisations, BICA creates awareness in the different schools in Utila Town and the Cays to teach about a variety of environmental topics, reaching an average of 526 school students per week within 7 schools in the island and the Cays. Topics include: protected areas management, Honduran fishing restrictions and the annually updated “Closed Seasons”, ecosystems around Utila, local fauna and flora, energy and water conservation tips, sustainable practices for visitors as well as residents, reef health and invasive species management. BICA also provides presentations to Universities and other groups upon request and supports local initiatives such as recycling, beach cleanups, among others.
Encloses the support toward regional campaigns such as Responsible Seafood Guide; an important step to provide sustainable guidelines for seafood consumption in the bay islands. These program also helps the promoting of sustainable practices through educational workshops in a NatGeo campaign called Go Blue Bay Islands. Each business signed up commits to follow sustainable practices to be environmentally friendly.
Meet the Reef Leaders
This program aims to empower and train the community’s young leaders to create a network that puts into action the knowledge in topics of conservation of marine and coastal resources with other groups within the community. BICA has 22 young Reef Leaders between the ages of 12 and 28. They get involved in activities such as Environmental Education, marine turtle night patrols, beach clean ups, support in school projects such as plant nursery, murals to create environmental awareness and guided tours for visitors.