This Lion no King
It’s stunningly beautiful, and when you see it majestically move though the water encircled by a massive mane of feathery fins, you understand how the Red Lionfish got its name.
It even gives off that “I’m cool and I know it. No one messes with me,” vibe.
People come from around the world to see it its natural habitat since it’s that spectacular.
We’ve seen it in Belize and across the Pacific Isles, and it never fails to captivate.
Like its namesake, it’s very dangerous and predatory. Just ask anyone unlucky enough to have been stung by one of those beautiful, feathery fins. So fishermen and divers stay away from it – with good reason.
It also has a huge appetite, and is eating its way unopposed through the Belize Great Barrier Reef system, causing considerable damage as an invasive species.
Now, what’s interesting is that the meat from the Lionfish is considered a delicacy and is indeed delicious – if you’re game to catch it.
Enter the marine conservation organization “Blue Ventures” which is trying to create a market for the fish as a way to combat its negative effects on the reef. The conservation group is working on teaching fishermen how to catch and clean the species without getting stung with the right handling and processing techniques.
Then, they’re trying to market the fish and convince restaurant owners to offer it on their menus.
It’s not an easy job. Fishermen by long tradition give Lionfish a wide berth, and with those lovely big venomous fins they’re quite a job to handle, clean and process, And then you only get a little bit of meat from each one, so there’s a challenge to marketers and restaurant owners.
However, we salute “Blue Ventures” in their efforts and wish them well. It’s a very worthy task and something needs to be done to address the damage the Lionfish are causing. It also makes sense – here’s something delicious that, once in demand, can save us all a lot of trouble.
And make for some excellent, healthy dining.
So, let’s hope for the best. And if you do happen to see Lionfish on a menu, go for it, you’ll be delightfully surprised, and doing the reef a favor.
And if you want to watch a cool, instructive video, go to http://www.dw.de/from-reef-to-plate-belize-combats-the-lionfish/a-17518501