Friday, July 20, 2012

Invasive Species? Hunt 'Em Down and Eat 'Em!

The inaugural Lionfish Derby in Wilmington, NC.

Early Saturday morning, about 20 scuba divers armed with spear guns will embark from Masonboro Inlet on a sea safari. Their mission: to lance and kill as many lionfish as possible.

"We're trying to do our part to control the lionfish in this area," said Inman Campbell, shop manager at Scuba-Now in Wilmington, who organized Saturday's inaugural Lionfish Derby. "They're starting to take over."

The lionfish, a spiny, brown-and-white striped animal native to the South Pacific and Indian oceans, has been present in North Carolina waters since at least the early 2000s. While visually stunning, the invasive species is a prolific breeder and a voracious eater that can quickly and easily thin populations of native fish. Lionfish are covered in venomous spikes and thus have very few predators in Carolina waters, which can make it difficult to control their population sprawl.

It's a good start. Another way to reduce their numbers is to exempt lionfish from any sort of catch limit for both commercial and hobby fishermen.


Goober said...

I'm not sure that they are a sportfish, per se. They certainly aren't a food fish - I've never heard of anyone eating them, and doing so would likely be pretty hazardous - they are chock full of poison.

So, the solutuion isn't that easy because I doubt very much that anyone would fish for them even if limits (assuming that they even exist for an invasive sepcies) were lifted.

THey are also tiny, so hook and line fishermen would have no interest, even if the interest were solely sporting, and not to eat them.

Bob said...
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Bob said...

@Goober: Did you even read the linked article? It says explicitly that you can eat lionfish. They are venomous, not poisonous, the two are quite different. Venomous means that they have toxic defensive spines; poisonous means unsafe to eat. Puffer fish are poisonous when not prepared correctly, but they are not venomous. Rattlesnakes are venomous, and can kill with a toxic bite, but they are not poisonous, and are quite tasty when eaten.