POSTERS FOR CATCHING FISHERMEN
The Lionfish is a beautiful but invasive and venomous species, currently destroying the ecosystem of the Caribbean. Due to being dangerous to both humans and marine life, Colombia’s Ministry of Environment has spent 4 years doing everything within its powers to stop this menace. With budgets limited or otherwise non-existent, every effort made counts. Lots of literature is available about the Lionfish and its effect on its newly adopted environment, so locals understand the dangers. But fisherman travel light and don’t carry any of the information given out by the Ministry. We needed more fishermen to join in hunting for Lionfish, so we had to make sure we caught their attention and removed the myth.
Having previously had success with ideas to tackle Lionfish, we wanted to create something that was useful in more than one way. We created “Posters for catching fishermen”: beautifully designed posters that explained everything fishermen needed to know about this pest: toxicology information, where to find them, how to capture them and how to treat a sting. But these posters had a twist: each one was printed with an innovative perforation technique which meant, when pulled apart, they would literally transform into working lightweight bags or nets that fisherman could use to bring home their catch. So, they performed a very useful fishing function too. As a result, we turned something these Colombian fishermen never used to take notice of into items they wanted to take away. This provided a constant and useful reminder of the issue in a format they’d keep with them.
Lionfish can only be hunt in an artisan way, and because of the huge reproduction rates of the fish, we need new fishermen to join, but in some regions of the colombian coast fishermen don't hunt Lionfish because of the myths around it, like in the Guajira region where it's venom is considered lethal, or that it can affect men's virility if eaten. We had to first provide clear information, and then do what has worked for us in the past which is to provide them with tools to do their duties too. Instead of giving them more and more leaflets which they don't carry with them, we decided to give them that same information in the shape of posters, posters that could become useful bags for the fishermen.
For this idea to be successful we needed to find a material that would work equally well as a beautiful poster as a net. We used Tyvek®: an incredibly tough sheet material made from high-density polyethylene fibres that’s ideally suited for our needs of durability and tear resistance. In its poster form Tyvek® offers an excellent printing surface with high opacity. It’s also tear, puncture, water, UV and chemical-resistant (it’s not affected by most acids, bases and salts, and can endure temperatures from -73°C to +110°C). And unlike paper, which absorbs humidity and falls apart, it’s totally waterproof - keeping our message perfectly intact. It’s also non-toxic, chemically inert and contains no binders. So, 100% recyclable. Again, ideal for such an environmentally conscious project. Finally, because we’re creating a product that will come into contact with foodstuffs, we chose Tyvek® due to it being FDA-approved and having an ISEGA certificate.
As Lionfish sightings are starting to increase in the region of Islas del Rosario on the Atlantic Colombian Coast and the Guajira region, these posters have become indispensable tools for the ministry when approaching fishermen. Providing both important information and being a very useful fishing aid, fishermen now have more than one reason to take notice of them. Despite the limited budget, the posters are part of a wider campaign developed by the Ministry of Environment of Colombia that has been hugely successful in keeping the Lionfish population under control. And in areas such as Islas del Rosario - a national park reserve and one of the most important coral reefs in the Caribbean - numbers are starting to decline.Every fisherman we recruit can catch an average of 6 Lionfish a day, as each Lionfish can ovar 2million eggs a year; up to 300 million eggs less will populate the Caribbean.