Roatan Travel: Choosing Responsible Seafood

At Octopus Dive School, we love exploring and enjoying the amazing reef that Roatan has to offer. 

We also do our best to protect the health of the reef and encourage our visitors to learn about responsible seafood choices when it comes to dining on Roatan. 

Because caring for the environment begins with small steps taken by large numbers of people. 

By acting consistently we can ensure our individual actions create the largest impact possible.  This is part of the reason why we shouldn’t stop caring about our behavior when we go on holidays.  While the travel methods that get you to Roatan may not be the most environmentally sound, it is possible to act sustainably upon arrival.  And one of the best ways is by choosing responsible seafood on your Roatan dive vacation.  In this post, we’ll list some of the best options for seafood consumption and some of the species that you should definitely not consume.

Bay Islands Responsible Seafood Guide

The Bay Islands Responsible Seafood Guide was created to help Roatan locals and visitors make sustainable choices about their seafood consumption.  Unfortunately, there are several local species which are considered vulnerable due to overfishing or habitat degradation.  The Responsible Seafood Guide was created to inform the general public, but it requires effort from the entire community.  The guide has been distributed to restaurants, retailers, commercial suppliers and fishing outfitters throughout the islands, however, consumers need to know and understand the guidelines as well.  If they come across any “do not consume” species for sale, educating the seller can help reinforce the campaign’s objectives.

What is Sustainable Seafood?

Sustainable seafood is harvested from healthy, growing populations using methods that don’t harm the marine environment or the fishermen.  Considerations such as catch size, seasonality, harvesting methods and bait types are all taken into account when designating sustainably caught seafood.  To be designated sustainable, harvesting methods should ensure the health of the fish populations, the marine ecosystems as well as the livelihood of the fishermen.  Ultimately, sustainable practices should ensure the availability of marine resources for future generations.

The Importance of Choosing Sustainable Seafood?

Healthy fish populations also mean robust coral reefs and viable fisheries.  Although it may seem that personal efforts make a negligible impact, change must begin with the individual.  This is why it’s important for everyone involved in the Roatan fish trade, including the one-time visitor, to make responsible choices when it comes to seafood consumption.

Best (And Worst) Options For Choosing Responsible Seafood On Your Roatan Vacation

If there is one best option for choosing responsible seafood in Roatan, it’s lionfish.  It’s an invasive species that has been preying upon local fish since its introduction.  It also pressures coral reefs by wiping out the herbivores that remove algae.  Lionfish has a very mild taste which makes it suitable for a wide variety of dishes.  Increasing lionfish consumption helps other fish species as well as the entire coral reef system.

Other fish on the “best options” list are tuna, Spanish mackerel, wahoo, mahi mahi, kingfish and yellowtail snapper.

Fish to avoid include most groupers including black, Goliath, Nassau, tiger, yellowfin and yellow mouth.  Also on the “do not consume” list are stoplight parrotfish, triggerfish, lane mahogany, schoolmaster, shark and sea turtle.


Species on the “caution” list include Caribbean spiny lobster, barracuda, queen conch, mutton snapper, dog snapper, red hind and dog hind.

It’s important to remember that the seafood decisions you make will influence the health of the marine ecosystem in Roatan.  Ask about the type of fish you’re being served and choose an alternative if you’re unsure about its sustainability.

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