As the Lionfish invasion continues to harm our marine ecosystem, REEF and other partners are looking to create markets for Lionfish.
“Can you eat lionfish?” seems to be the most common question we still hear while talking to people about the lionfish invasion.
The answer is a resounding - Yes, people do eat lionfish and they are delicious! … and eating lionfish is great for several reasons:
Eating non-native lionfish is good for the environment. It is the ultimate in responsible seafood selections because removing lionfish helps our reefs and native fish stocks recover from environmental pressures, lionfish predation and overfishing. Eating non-native lionfish into extinction would , in this case, be a very good thing.
Lionfish is a white flaky fish, firmer in texture than halibut, no “red line” with a flavor profile somewhere between a thin grouper fillet and mahi mahi (dolphinfish or dorado depending upon where you live) with a touch of butteriness.
Whole Foods Market introduced lionfish to all Florida stores in April 2016, offering the white flaky fish similar to grouper or snapper, which is perfect for those who want a delicious, nutritious and eco-conscious choice. Working in partnership with the local community, Whole Foods Market hopes to make a difference in the lionfish population, protecting our coastal fisheries and reefs for generations to come, helping maintain healthy fish populations, restoring ecosystems and building a more sustainable seafood supply for everyone.
“The support of Whole Foods Market in addressing the lionfish problem is a great example of different groups working together to help the planet.” says Lad Akins, REEF’s Director of Special Projects. “We look forward to engaging even more divers and snorkelers in our Lionfish Derbies this summer and removing more lionfish from our coastal waters.” The derby series this year starts in June and includes events in Key Largo, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and Sarasota.
Invasive lionfish are voracious predators from the Indo-Pacific that threaten Florida’s marine ecosystems by devouring more than 170 species of our native fish and invertebrates. Defended from predators by 18 venomous spines, lionfish rule the reefs and reproduce as often as every four days, year round. Though lionfish may seem unstoppable, divers and snorkelers can significantly reduce local populations and allow native fish populations to recover. Lionfish derbies serve to educate the public, provide samples for researchers, and encourage market development, on top of removing thousands of ecologically devastating lionfish.
Check out some of the ways you can support this new market.