The lionfish invasion continues in the Caribbean and Florida Keys. The spread of the invasive lionfish has been well chronicled throughout media outlets. Now, one organization has taken the battle to a completely new level! It is time to eat them to beat them!
The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) announced the release of “The Lionfish Cookbook”, a collection of 45 delicious recipes designed to encourage the removal and consumption of invasive lionfish in the Atlantic. Lionfish have a delicate, mild-flavored, white meat and are considered a delicacy. Lionfish meat is safe to eat and contains no venom.
The Red Lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific, are the first non-native marine fish to successfully invade Atlantic waters. Lionfish densities in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the East Coast of the United States are on the rise due to their lack of predators and prolific, year-round reproduction. Thriving lionfish populations pose a serious risk to marine ecosystems through their predation on native marine life including both commercially and ecologically important species.
These predators have been rapidly expanding in the Caribbean and Atlantic waters, voraciously preying on local fish, shrimp and crab populations across the region and in Belize which is known for its world famous Barrier Reef.
ECOMAR launched the Belize Lionfish project earlier this year, which included workshops o how to handle and capture a lionfish, how to prepare them for consumption among other things. A monthly lionfish tournament was also held, where local fishermen and tour guides were awarded for capturing the most lionfish. All of this was done in effort to eradicate the elusive lionfish from our fragile ecosystem.
Some scientists are now listing the invasive lionfish species among the top 15 threats to global biodiversity. While REEF has organized local fishing "derbies" to hunt the lionfish, including handling tips and tasting sessions, Akins said making humans the invading species' top predator was the best way to fight back against the threat it posed.
The front section of the cookbook, which calls the lionfish "The Caribbean's New Delicacy," gives useful tips on collecting, handling and preparing the colorful species, as well as providing expert background on its ecological impact.
Lad Akins, author of the cook book, said he hoped the cookbook could help create a commercial market for lionfish that would speed their eradication. Proceeds from the sale of this book will support REEF's marine conservation and lionfish research activities. For more information on REEF or to purchase a cook book visit www.reef.org