They are typically found in the waters of South America, but a few days ago a Pacu fish was found in a pond near Lemonal Village in rural Belize. The fish, weighing 18 pounds and measuring more than thirty inches in length was found by father and son John Anthony Sr and Jr. The discovery of this fish in Belizean waters is making news because of its invasive characteristics. Given enough time, the Pacu fish reproduces in enormous numbers which could lead to the displacement of other fishes. The Fisheries Department is monitoring the situation. Reporter Hipolito Novelo has the following the story.
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: This is a Pacu fish and it was found by father and son John Anthony Sr and John Anthony Jr. This fish was found a few days ago in a pond not far away from Lemonal village. This Pacu fish is making news because it has travelled thousands of miles from its native waters in South America in Suriname and Brazil and that’s concerning says senior fisheries officer at the Fisheries Department Rigoberto Quintana. The Pacu fish is an invasive species such as the Lionfish and that spells trouble for other fishes.
Rigoberto Quintana, Senior Fisheries Officer, Fisheries Department: “It is a concern for us. I think it’s the first specimen that has been recorded in the area. We had previous sightings in the Rio Hondo at the mouth of the Rio Hondo with our colleagues from Ecosur they had communicated to us in 2013 that a sample was also caught there in the Rio Hondo.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: This particular Pacu is said to have measured about thirty two inches in length and weighed about eighteen pounds. Experts believe that the Pacu’s presence in Belize is a result of transboundary introduction either through the watersheds of the new river or via the Rio Hondo during extreme flooding events. Quintana says that the Pacu’s invasive characteristics lead to the displacement of other fishes.
Rigoberto Quintana, Senior Fisheries Officer, Fisheries Department: “It is considered an invasive species. It is a detritivore meaning that they feed on the decomposed organic matter and they tend to overpopulate the aquatic ecosystem and displacing some of the local cichlids that we have in our fresh water systems.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: The Fisheries Department is tasked with managing invasive species so that the department is encouraging fishermen to report all sightings.
Rigoberto Quintana, Senior Fisheries Officer, Fisheries Department: “We encourage fishermen, In order for us to do more, to go to the species identification. We would encourage fishers to report these sightings and capture of fish to the Fisheries Department so we can properly identify them.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: And if you come across a Pacu Quintana says they’re best eaten barbecued.
Rigoberto Quintana, Senior Fisheries Officer, Fisheries Department: “All that we can encourage is just similar with the Lionfish to encourage fishers to capture them, spear them and to consume them. It’s a good fish for consumption and that is what we would encourage the population to do. I would barbecue that grill that for the weekend so I saw the guys in Lemonal doing their barbecue and smoking the fish so it’s good to consume it.”