Lionfish Please!

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Field Scientist and Volunteers research for recipe book

By Garry Phillips, Expedition and Dive Manager, Sarteneja, Belize. Belize fisheries department are in the process of publishing a book of recipes for lionfish.

The lionfish cookbook will feature a number of different ways in which the lionfish can be cooked.  It will also give details on lionfish biology a background of the fish and its invasion, ecology and impact it has on the local reef system here in Belize.

Field Scientist and Volunteers carry out research for cookbook

Lionfish is an invasive species in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Belize fisheries, dive operators and various other NGOs including Blue Ventures regularly dive to cull and monitor the invasion.  After the last cull fisheries department arrived at Blue Ventures field camp with over 100 lionfish, taking measurements and recording stomach contents.

Lionfish - an invasive species in Belize
A huge number of lionfish culled

Lionfish have few predators and its population has been growing fast, eating large quantities of indigenous fish in these seas. Dissections have shown their stomach contents to include juvenile wrasse and parrot fish.

Dissecting the lionfish

Competitions have been held for the largest lionfish, most lionfish caught and the fish with the most other fish in its stomach! Restaurants are now promoting the fish as food; many people say it tastes like snapper. Many countries are encouraging consumption of lionfish to create demand and incentive for lionfish removals.

So if you are visiting the Caribbean soon, give the conch a miss and ask for lionfish please.