By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
Fourteen women from coastal communities completed a workshop this week on making jewellery using lionfish parts.
The three-day workshop, sponsored by the conservation NGO, Blue Ventures, concluded with a ceremony at the Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary at mile 31 ½ on the George Price highway. Through the workshop, participants learned how to dry, cure and prepare jewellery using parts of the lionfish, such as the fins and tail.
Jennifer Chapman, country coordinator for Blue Ventures, explained that the skills passed on to the participants will serve to diversify the market for lionfish products. The venture will directly benefit Belize’s economy.
“Through the jewellery, we’re creating value for the parts of the lionfish that were previously discarded. This adds value to the fisherman’s catch, which encourages him to go out and catch more lionfish”, Chapman said. “While we’re doing that, it also serves as a new source of income for these women.”
The workshop also carries an environmental benefit, by assisting with the decrease and eventual eradication of the lionfish, which is causing a problem for marine eco systems in Belize.
Apart from learning how to make the jewellery, participants were also taught how to handle the lionfish to avoid injury from the fish’s poisonous spines.
The participants are expected to go on to form a national cooperative for lionfish jewellery and establish a lionfish jewellery brand.