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60-Second Earth

Eating the Lionfish

The answer to an invasive fish species in the Atlantic and Caribbean may just be overfishing. David Biello reports

The red lionfish sports maroon and white stripes to complement its venomous spines. A native of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the red lionfish and one of its cousins have rapidly established a new domain from Cape Hatteras to the coast of Mexico.

The lionfish gorge on small fish, mollusks and invertebrates, enough to fill out to as much as 480 grams and decimate local populations on the coral reefs they inhabit. Their arrival has caused quote "extreme disruption to native fish communities," according to the International Coral Reef Initiative, which is studying what to do about the lionfish invasion.

The lionfish are largely taking over thanks to overfishing by us humans, which has seriously diminished native grouper and snapper that would otherwise play the same role. But humans can help too, if we just learn to overfish the lionfish.

In fact, the answer to this invasive species problem may lie on the dinner table. After all, lionfish fillets are not poisonous and rather delicious, according to both the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and fisherfolk who have tasted it. Per NOAA quote "we can't possibly eat too many of them."

—David Biello

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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