shutterstock_198408566-680x454Being a Florida resident since 2009, I have been alarmed by the dramatic increase in lionfish seen during my dives. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages people to remove lionfish from State waters in an effort to control the negative effects of these invasive fish. So I am very glad to hear that supermarkets and restaurants are finally coming together to support the consumption of lionfish. Having participated in local lionfish fishing tournaments and fry-ups, that were organized in an effort to control this pest, I can say that lionfish is a pretty delicious, mild tasting white fish. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, a respected consumer resource for selecting sustainable seafood, has recently labeled lionfish as a ‘best choice’, which is the highest available rating from the organization. For example, the high end supermarket chain Whole Foods only sells fish with the ‘best choice’ rating.  Whole Foods recently indicated that it will begin selling lionfish in stores on the West Coast within the next six months, which is welcome news for lionfish hunters and Florida reef lovers alike. Previously, supply had been a concern and it was difficult to find a steady source of this venoumous species. However, Restuaranter Ryan Chadwick is helping to solve this problem and is in the process of starting what is believed to be the first lionfish wholesale business in the Carribean, using local divers. Additionally, Chadwick is also working on creating a trap that would enable lionfish to be caught without depending solely on labor intensive spearfishing. Finding lionfish in a national supermarket and on more chefs menu’s will hopefully raise public awareness and interest, and create a market for eating this fish in the mainstream foodie community. We need to remove the perception of the lionfish as merely an aquarium resident, and more like a tasty seafood menu item, in order to help rid them from the waters of Florida and the Carribean. So if you see lionfish for sale at your local supermarket or on your favorite restaurant menu, I encourage you to give it a try.  MORE

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