By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager
The first time I snorkeled with Lionfish, I would have never imagined eating one! Invasivorism, a diet trend involving consumption of harmful invasive species, is a growing culinary trend and one that could help out our oceans too. Last month, a few members of the SeaChoice team went to the 2015 SeaWeb Seafood Summit to attend the world’s largest conference on seafood sustainability. One of the evening events this year included a Celebrity Chef Lionfish Challenge, where eight American chefs offered lionfish tastings for attendees and a judging panel.
The social media hashtag for the night was #maliciousbutdelicious and I actually couldn’t agree more! Lionfish are an invasive fish that threaten Caribbean and American marine ecosystems. Although stunning in appearance, the lionfish has very few predators due to its venomous spines. The lionfish is also a prolific breeder who preys on numerous other species of fish, making it a big threat to local ecosystems. By harvesting lionfish and creating market demand for them, we have a win-win situation.
Did I mention they were indeed delicious!? The Seafood Summit was in New Orleans this year, and the lionfish dishes had a little southern influence making them extremely delicious. Knowing how tasty lionfish can be, it seems there could be a market for invasive marine species. This will both help to meet the growing demand for seafood and to lessen the havoc these creatures are causing in delicate ecosystems.
There are many other species invading ecosystems around the globe that could also provide new and interesting food supplies. One interesting article shows how one creative sushi chef prepares tasty dishes using invasive species such as jellyfish, Asian shore crabs, and of course lionfish. Although I might not fully embrace the invasivore diet, I can now see how this might be the hottest new culinary trend. After all, if you can’t beat them, you might as well eat them!