Hey dudes and dudettes! Let’s talk a bit of an environmental problem: Fish overpopulation. Specifically lionfish overpopulation.
This invasive species, native to coral reefs in the tropical waters of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans has become a real trouble in the Atlantic and especially in the Caribbean. Lacking a natural predator in these waters, and with a voracious appetite, the lionfish population has grown out of control and threatens many endemic species of fish and the well-being of coral reefs.
The common name “lionfish” refers to two closely related and nearly indistinguishable species that are invasive in U.S. waters. Lionfish were first detected along Florida coasts in the mid-1980s, but their populations have swelled dramatically in the past 15 years. They are popular with aquarists, so it is possible that repeated escapes into the wild via aquarium releases are the cause for the invasion. These troublesome motherfuckers now inhabit reefs, wrecks, and other habitat types in the warm marine waters of the greater Atlantic.
Primarily fish-eaters and with very few predators outside of their home range, a single lionfish residing on a coral reef can reduce recruitment of native reef fishes by 79%. SEVENTY. NINE. PERCENT! Holy cow, that’s a lot!
Because lionfish feed on prey normally consumed by snappers, groupers, and other commercially important native species, their presence could negatively affect the well-being of valuable commercial and recreational fisheries.
Countries like Colombia have taken measures to counter this invasion, and in the meantime, get some benefits. Their approach? Cuisine and Jewelry. That’s right. Colombians are eating these fuckers and even making jewels out of their fins.
Lionfish are not only edible but also delicious. The main issue with them is the fact that they’re covered on poisonous spikes and many fishermen don’t catch them, because the demand is pretty low, and capturing them is potentially dangerous because of their spikes.
For the previously mentioned reasons, their capture has to be made using spears or harpoons, so they present a worthy catch for you spearos. Cooking them properly can yield excellent culinary results as their meat is rich in Omega 3 and is quite tasty.
So now you know: next time you’re out there fishing you can do the ecosystem some good and catch one of these. If you learn how to cook it properly, you won’t regret your catch, bro!
If we unite, we can overcome this problem and the fact that we can get some great dishes and accessories out of it is just gravy!