The upscale supermarket, Whole Foods, is taking an innovative approach to countering the spread of an invasive species of fish in Florida. They offering lionfish for sale. It is sort of a “if you can’t beat’em, eat’em” approach to managing an invasive species. A Whole Foods spokesman says that the fish’s “white, buttery meat lends itself to a number of different recipes.” The supermarket’s workers will remove the venomous spines before consumers purchase the fish, according to the statement.
Lionfish are a stripped feathery-finned invasive species with venomous spines that have been spreading rapidly since the 1990s along the southeast coast of the U.S., the Caribbean, and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico. The fish were introduced to the region area after aquarium collectors released them in the waters of South Florida. Native to the Indo-Pacific, the lionfish lack natural predators and have been laying waste to local fish and shrimp populations.
Last month at a two-day “Lionfish Awareness Days” across the state of Florida, over 14,000 lionship were caught and removed from local waters. The events included demonstrations on how to fillet and cook lionfish.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is not optimistic about controlling the spread of lionfish. On their website, “Why are lionfish a growing problem in the Atlantic Ocean?” they comment: “Unfortunately, NOAA researchers have concluded that invasive lionfish populations will continue to grow and cannot be eliminated using conventional methods. Marine invaders are nearly impossible to eradicate once established.”