Lionfish Fast Becoming the Caribbean’s New Delicacy

Jamaica Information Services writes that “The fish that once seemed untouchable with its defensive spines, has now proven conquerable, quickly whipped up into a delicious dish; the lionfish could easily become the seafood of choice for many a discerning palate.” [Also see previous post Turning Up Heat on Lionfish.]

With endless methods of preparation, and fast becoming the main ingredient in many exotic dishes, the lionfish has been dubbed “the Caribbean’s new delicacy” in the Lionfish Cookbook produced by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, a non-profit marine conservation organisation founded in 1990 to engage volunteers in the preservation of marine systems. Some of the mouthwatering recipes featured in the book, include: Spicy Lionfish Rosti, Lionfish Veracruz, Sweet Potato Encrusted Lionfish, Coconut Panko Lionfish with Mango Curry Sauce, Beer Battered Lionfish, and Mango Salsa Lionfish. [. . .] The book is a result of ongoing efforts throughout the Caribbean and the United States to address the rapid invasion of the lionfish, a voracious “sit‐and‐wait” predator, capable of consuming large quantities of fish and shellfish daily and can negatively impact the fish stocks in a country.

Since it was recognised that a population explosion of the lionfish was devastating the Jamaican reefs and drastically reducing the abundance of coral reef fish, the Government has been proactively working to employ methods to control the impact of the fish. One strategy employed was embarking on a National Lionfish Project, which among other things, involves a public awareness campaign that encourages the catching and consumption of lionfish.

[. . .] With the launch of its ‘Scotia Goes Green on Lion Fish: Let’s Eat Them to Beat Them’ campaign, the Scotiabank Group has also joined the call for consumption of the fish as an effective method to control the devastating impact of the invasive species on marine life. In addition to the promotion of the consumption of the lionfish, the project, which is being led by the UWI through the Marine Invasive Species Lab within the Discovery Bay Marine Lab, aims to sensitise, educate, and train Jamaicans, particularly fisher folk, about this invasive species. [. . .]

Specifically, it sets out to train Jamaican fisher folk in the safe handling and cleaning of the lionfish; conduct scientific research to guide the management of the species; help create a market for this species thereby providing economic benefit for fishermen; and help to control the lionfish invasion and preserve Jamaica’s fisheries by killing the lionfish when encountered.

[National Lionfish Project Lead, Dr. Dayne Buddo] who is also Lecturer and Academic Coordinator, UWI Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory in St. Ann, further admitted that while it is impossible to get rid of the fish. “One thing we can surely do is to control the numbers and have some handle on the impact that this lionfish is creating,” noting that the UWI as well as other regional and international organisations “are working very hard to find ways of attacking this lionfish,” he said.

[. . .] Currently at the pilot phase, the National Lionfish Project, which is being administered by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), is an initiative of the Lionfish Subcommittee which comprises the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, NEPA, Food for the Poor, the UWI, Jamaica Fishermen Co-op Union, the Culinary Federation of Jamaica, the Fisheries Advisory Board, Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity Project, the Jamaica Tourist Board, and the Tourism Product Development Company. Through its research based approach, the project aims to track the invasion through underwater surveys island-wide; document the impacts through predation of native fish; design a trap capable of catching lionfish; and formulate a management plan for Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/30215 and previous post Turning Up Heat on Lionfish

For more information (and photo of Dr. Buddo), see http://www.ciasnet.org/2012/04/01/battle-lionfish-heats-up/

Top photo from http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/lionfish-spread-unprecedented/

One thought on “Lionfish Fast Becoming the Caribbean’s New Delicacy

  1. This is great, Lionfish is delicious, I have had it and I love it. Lets all eat more Lionfish! Please support my marine conservation project in Utila, Honduras by clicking the link (or copy and paste) and voting for my video. http://thescubadiverlife.com/carey-satin/ Scroll down and click “like”, tweet and share. With your help I will work to make sure our oceans stay beautiful!

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