photo credit NOAA
A month or so back I got a request on my Twitter account from someone who really hated lionfish. As a person who actually adores lionfish in all their beauty, I was skeptical that I would like what this person had to say. But curiosity prevailed, and I followed.
Some minorly offensive links at first, about how we should kill every lionfish we see (and eat it, which I guess makes it not as bad), but then I actually clicked, and here's what I found:
For those of you unfamiliar, the lionfish is a beautiful but venomous fish that's recently been butting in on reef habitats worldwide. They've even crept into the waters off my home in New England, though I haven't seen one there personally. They belong in the waters of the Indo-Pacific, but have been introduced in other parts of the world - most likely from careless home aquarists who were ignorant of what they'd just started. Lionfish are a problem because they gobble up juvenile reef fish before they can re-produce and re-stock the environment, putting a huge dent in normal reef fish populations.
So, KillTheLionfish has come up with a solution - "Catch, kill, eat, repeat." Interesting. I can't say that when I've come across one of these fish while snorkeling or diving I've thought to myself “Hey, that looks delicious.” But maybe this isn't such a bad idea...
Head on over to GreenJungle for an article about just this. Described as the "most disastrous marine invasion in history," the scary thing is that no one really knows the full-scale impact of this invasive species yet. They produce many offspring and those offspring are hungry. They're gonna eat whatever they find, and with those huge venomous spikes hanging off of them in every angle, they're not going to be bothered by anyone or anything in the process. That's the problem.
The solution? Dinner. The GreenJungle article has a very good point: "Conservation is most effectively driven by consumers via responsible commercial markets."
"Project Green Jungle is at the forefront with a select few individuals, organizations, and even governments in the commercial collection, preparation, and shipping of this gourmet fish. Commercial Markets in the US and abroad will be directly funding conservation of reefs throughout the Caribbean..."
Even NOAA's jumped onboard! With the catchy tagline "If we can't beat them, let's eat them!"
Honestly this is all very surprising to me, but it makes sense. A delicious overpopulated fish destroying reef habitat worldwide? Why not? Hey, I'll try anything once.
For more information, be sure to follow @KillTheLionfish on Twitter!
Full articles here:
What is a Lionfish? (GreenJungle)
What Impact does a Lionfish Have? (GreenJungle) (Cool graphic of the spread of lionfish here)
Filleting the Lion (NOAA)