When is sustainable seafood truly sustainable? When eating said seafood has no negative impact on its stocks or the planet. I’d like to take that idea one step further and give an even better scenario: when eating said seafood has a positive impact on other stocks and the planet.
What? Is there is a fish that you can eat that will make you a better person just by eating it? Yes, but only if it is found where it isn’t supposed to be. For truly sustainable seafood, I present to you: the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish.
Last week our very own Fish Navy team member Sarah Curry went out to film and participate in the Lionfish Derby in the Florida Keys. In the past few decades lionfish have been encroaching themselves in Caribbean and South Atlantic reefs, reproducing very quickly and depleting local ecosystems even more rapidly thanks to their voracious appetites. Various methods have been tried to fight back these beautiful but destructive invaders, and it has been found that the best way to make any kind of dent in their exponentially growing populations is to do what we humans do best: eat them. That’s right, the motto is “Eat ’em to beat ’em”.
Since humans are so good at bringing down fish stocks, why not do it to fish that don’t actually belong? Now, sadly, it isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. Lionfish won’t readily take a hook and line, and with their excellent survival skills they can really only be caught using a spear gun. This makes for a very time consuming and expensive fishery. But every little bit counts, or at least that’s what the team at REEF is counting on.
So for once, we are encouraging mankind to make their eyes bigger than their stomachs. Fish away! Catch every last lionfish that you can! At a rate of 10,000 eggs produced per female per day, we have a lot of eating to do. We want to see these guys on every menu in every restaurant. We want lionfish to be in every ice chest at every supermarket. We want lionfish fish fingers, lionfish sandwiches, lionfish dip… And the best part of all this mass eating? It will take the heat off other popular eating fish, like tuna or salmon or grouper. Even is for just one meal.
Check out The Lionfish Cookbook for recipe ideas and to learn more about the Indo-Pacific lionfish problem.