The Delicious Way to Curb the Caribbean’s Lionfish Problem

Jamaican fishermen and chefs are working together to kill and eat the invasive species.
Dec 17, 2014·
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

The poisonous spines of the lionfish are no joke. “That pain lasts a long time, and it moves fast,” Karrinton Lyons, a fisherman from Montego Bay, Jamaica, says of being stung by the fish. “You feel it in your whole body. You feel it in your heart, man.”

Lionfish, native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans through South and Southeast Asia, is an invasive species in the Caribbean. Since the 1990s, the highly proficient predator has been wreaking havoc on the waters that fishermen depend on for their livelihoods. So instead of letting the invaders eat away their catches, Lyons and his fellow fishermen are turning their spear guns on the lionfish.

“They’re bad for the reef, so you have to get rid of them,” Lyons says in this new video from YouTube’s Foodie channel. “So if we can make a little money other than staying here, well that’s good.”

Dockside, the fish are far less of a nuisance—because they happen to be, on all accounts, delicious. Once their poisonous spines are snipped off, the fish are a dream to work with in the kitchen. At one Jamaican restaurant, lionfish are smeared with jerk spices and served with papaya salsa, which sounds like a rather delicious solution to a vexing problem.