Will You Start Eating Lionfish?
My husband and I were watching the local Houston nightly news some time ago. There was a segment about an invasive species of fish called lionfish that is encroaching upon native species from the Caribbean area all the way up the East Coast and even into the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas coastline.
That drew our attention as we live not far from the Gulf of Mexico.
Pterois is the official name of this type of fish. Another name which seems very fitting because of the coloration is zebrafish.
I knew of lionfish as being exotic aquarium fish and quite beautiful in appearance.
Their fins which spread out in all directions are toxic and because of that they have very few predators.
Their venom can cause painful stings if humans happen to come in touch with them.
Those who are small, elderly or with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to that sting. In some cases it can even be fatal. In others...it is an encounter that will leave behind a agonizing an most unpleasant memory.
Apparently their usual habitat is in the Indo-Pacific regions of the world. However they started colonizing in this part of the world…whether it was from escaped aquarium fish…or some other means...they are now a problem.
The National Geographic video below shows what can be done to mitigate the problems caused by the rapidly increasing lionfish populations in our waters.
Lionfish in open ocean waters can live good long lives...even up to 15 years of age.
A female lionfish lays over a million eggs annually and can produce eggs up to every 4 days or so. They can live in deep waters and also shallow ones so are very adaptive to the environment.
Thus the best way to start keeping them at reasonable numbers would be to create a desirable menu item and for people to start eating them.
The toxins are killed at high cooking temperatures, so that is no problem. It would also give fishermen another source of income.
The taste of the cooked fish is reported to be quite mild and delicious.
I have since viewed a television show by the name of Bizarre Foods with the host Andrew Zimmern.
He goes around the world eating some of the most unusual things and in one episode he was tasting lionfish.
Andrew Zimmern also reported it as tasting very good.
If this fish was on a restaurant menu, knowing what I have now learned about it, I would certainly be willing to try it.
Non Native Species
This is just one more example of what happens when non native species whether plants or animals start expanding into areas where they are not welcomed.
In the case of lionfish if an all out effort to keep them under control is not accomplished we may eventually have our reefs destroyed. It is probably impossible to eradicate them all.
The fish we count upon for sustenance will be scarce or even eliminated because the smaller fish upon which they prey will be eaten by the these predators.
Lionfish on the Menu
It is the red lionfish in particular which are invading the waters threatening the Caribbean and the United States.
The best of all scenarios according to the news report on television and reading further is to develop this particular fish as a desired food item.
That will encourage fishermen to start harvesting them for profit when chefs and even home cooks want to add that type fish to our diets.
The way most of these fish are caught is by spear fishing.
I sincerely hope restaurateurs, seafood shops and even the seafood areas in our local grocery stores are paying attention to this potential looming disaster.
Let's all pitch in together and do what we can to lessen the danger that lionfish are now causing.
Learn much more about lionfish in the video below. It is rather frightening to know how fast they are populating our waters and the long term implications.
Would you eat lionfish if it was available on a restaurant menu or at your local seafood market?
It is interesting to know that there is a cookbook specifically related to eating this predatory fish that is endangering our seafood supply. Way to go! Whether we wish to prepare this fish in our own homes or not, let's at least do our part in starting to consume them!
© 2016 Peggy Woods