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Foster's Food Fair - IGA proudly supports CULL lionfish tournaments for a third year

28 November 2014

Woody Foster, Tiffany Dixon-Ebanks, Mark Orr, Katie O'Neill, Jason Washington and Julian Foster 

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; November 26, 2014. Foster’s Food Fair - IGA has again confirmed that they will be contributing $20,000 towards the lionfish culling initiative in Cayman for a third consecutive year.

The Islands largest supermarket chain has teamed up with Cayman United Lionfish League (CULL), a group of diving and marine conservation enthusiasts, and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) to continue efforts in maintaining Cayman’s invasive lionfish population.

The red lionfish, Pterois volitans, native to the Pacific Ocean, is a beautiful but dangerous fish. Since the first sighting in Florida in 1985 their populations have exploded all over the Caribbean and this notorious pest became a regular sight in local waters. Despite their venomous spines, the most severe damage imposed by these predators is upon our fragile marine ecosystem due to their voracious appetites and the ability to vastly reproduce.

With no natural predators in Atlantic waters, the onus has been taken on by residents and visitors to keep control of the lionfish populations. CULL, with the support of Foster’s Food Fair - IGA, is able to encourage these conservation efforts by hosting tournaments which introduce competition amongst both scuba divers and free divers alike to cull the most lionfish.

“Foster's is very happy to again partner up with CITA and CULL to work towards keeping the lionfish population down in our reefs. The monies collected from a charge on plastic bags in the stores is being put to good use to assist with funding this and other environmental programs in the community,” said Woody Foster of Foster’s Food Fair.

Jason Washington of Ambassador Divers, and co-founder of CULL explained, “We were very excited to hear that Foster’s was coming on board again for 2015. Our numbers show that we are making an impact on the local lionfish population and without the support of companies like Foster’s Food Fair - IGA, it simply wouldn’t be possible.”

Being both delicious and versatile in cooking, lionfish is now a sought-after dish in Cayman with many restaurants now including it in their menus on a regular basis; ceviche, tempura and lionfish tacos are just some of the ways to enjoy this tasty fish.

CULL’s lionfish tournaments are open to the public and encourage non-divers, as well as tournament participants, to attend the weigh-ins where the host restaurant serves enticing appetizers using the freshly caught lionfish.

Ms. Dixon-Ebanks praised the Foster’s Group for their support, saying “CITA is elated that Foster’s has come on board again to sponsor this initiative directly related to minimizing negative effects on the marine environment.  Several reports have shown how effective these activities have been and it is reassuring that Foster’s continues to recognize the importance.”  Ms. Dixon-Ebanks also gave kudos to the CULL team for their commitment to this initiative.  “Whilst CITA stands committed to support through marketing assistance, we would like to recognize the unwavering dedication of the CULL team for actually spearheading and executing these activities. The passion with which they approach the Leagues’ goals is certainly refreshing.”

Stay tuned for information for CULL #13 which is coming soon!

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CITA Background:

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) was formed in March 2001, through an amalgamation of the Cayman Tourism Alliance and the Cayman Islands Hotel and Condominium Association. The CITA represents tourism businesses from all sectors, including hotels, condominiums and villas, watersports operators, restaurants, attractions, airlines, tourism transport providers, cruise sector businesses and allied tourism service providers. The CITA represents almost 200 tourism businesses and is active in the areas of industry and government relations, marketing and events, industry development and education.