The idea of eating a beautiful reef fish probably makes you a little squeamish, and that’s totally normal. The first lesson of conservation is, after all, to leave nature alone. But what about when we’ve already messed nature up? Then, we should step in, and find a solution to our problem. Luckily, a solution to the lionfish epidemic might be simpler than you think: let’s just eat them.
The lionfish is a natural critter in the waters in the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea. However, it is not supposed to be hanging out in the Caribbean, or off the coast of Florida. The lionfish found in these waters all come from a population of about six to eight females, meaning they were probably let loose by uncommitted pet owners. Just imagine, “Oh, gee, a lionfish, that would be pretty sick.” The upkeep becomes too much and bam, it’s a lot easier to let your new friend go than to flush him down the toilet.
In the Americas, lionfish have no natural predators, but they eat almost every other type of fish. They eat so much, it actually makes them sick. But fortunately, they are also a delicious, delicate meat. Divers can be taught to spear them, and then it is a simple matter of cutting off the poisonous fins and choosing your recipe, from fried to sushi to soup. There’s even a cookbook.
So if you’re down near the Caribbean this summer, or even off the coast of North Carolina, and see lionfish on the menu, don’t be surprised. In fact, give it a taste, and see if you like it. You’re one step closer to saving the world.