Monday, August 9, 2010

Eating Fish Might Help Reverse Lionfish Invasion

A massive fishing effort to stop invasive lionfish involves chefs marketing these delicious fish to consumers.

A new study looking at how to curb the rapid growth of lionfish, an invasive species not native to the Atlantic Ocean, suggests that approximately 27 percent of mature lionfish will have to be removed monthly for one year to reduce its population growth rate to zero.

But the good news is that the invasive fish happens to be delicious. NOAA is encouraging chefs to find new ways to introduce this tasty species of saltwater fish to U.S. consumers.

Lionfish are native to the western and central Pacific Ocean, but have established themselves from North Carolina to South America.

Scientists and public officials are seriously concerned at the effect lionfish are having on reef ecosystems, since this predator is capable of rapid population growth, often competing with native fish for food and territory.

Authorities are also encouraging a local market for the species, whose delicate white flesh tastes similar to a snapper or grouper. NOAA scientists concur that developing a market for lionfish is one of the only ways to substantially reduce their numbers.

NOAA has developed an "Eat Lionfish" campaign that brings together fishing communities, wholesalers, and chefs in an effort to broaden U.S. consumers’ awareness of this delicious invader.

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