Patrick van Brakel

Patrick van Brakel and Roger J.Muller, Jr. with their lionfish catch of the day

Association, Company, Affiliations: The Lionfish Snack Aruba

Your favorite quote: To accomplish great things, we not must only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe

Your message or mission statement: Born in the Netherlands as a child I was already drawn to nature, spending a lot of days playing in the woods. I arrived on Aruba in 1997 with a 3 year contract as a primary school teacher. I will never forget the first arrival looking down on the beautiful colors of the sea beneath me. After one year snorkeling every day, I did my Open Water scuba dive course, and a new world opened up. In the year 2009, lionfish started to pop up. At first I only was thinking what a beautiful fish it was. Not long after I learned how destructive this invasive fish can be to our reef and the animals living on it. So I started hunting them. I tried to sell them to local restaurants but the chef cooks did not always want to buy them. So there I was with all this lionfish. I decided to build a snack beside my house. A snack dedicated to lionfish food, where local and tourists can try and eat the delicious lionfish. LionFish Snack Aruba was born. Eat them to beat them! Last July I quit my fulltime job to run the LionFish Snack Aruba full time. Hunting during the week I started working together with our local foundations Caribbean Lionfish Alliance and Aruba Reef Care. The snack became not only a place to buy lionfish food but it became also a place to educate people about lionfish.

Your latest endeavors and where they take place: In 2020 we (LionFish Snack Aruba, Caribbean Lionfish Alliance and Aruba Reef Care) applied for funding deep water traps for catching lionfish. The traps are designed by Dr. Steve Gittings from NOAA. In September 2021, UNESCO granted us with $5000USD to give our project a try. We are now in the process of building 9 traps. We are going to try them out in 3 different spots and locations on the island. If the results are positive we will take the next step to involve local fishermen and hopefully realize a new fishery.

What efforts are you most proud of? I am very proud on the realization of Lionfish Snack Aruba. Now there is always a place on the island where fishermen can sell there caught lionfish. Lately local fishermen started to sell me lionfish. It is a start where they see lionfish as a new form of income. That means a little bit less pressure on other native fish.

Anything else you’d like us to know? Eat them to beat them!

Patrick van Brakel at the Lionfish Snack Aruba
Lionfish Snack Aruba

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