It’s easy with the right equipment

lionfish equipment

Lionfish look tricky to fillet – how do you deal with all those spines?
In fact, with the right equipment, they are straightforward to prepare and provide meaty white fillets, delicious and versatile.

As part of our Lionfish on the Menu project, we provided ‘kits’ of equipment to sixty fishers, consisting of a filleting knife, shears, puncture-proof gloves, an apron, hair net and chopping board.

Our partner, CLEAR Caribbean, ran training sessions on how to slice and dice the fish, and our survey of participants showed that all 53 fishers who attended the sessions agreed that it had increased their knowledge of how to handle and process lionfish for consumption. Previous research had shown that only around a third of those who catch it know how to fillet the fish.

Our further plans were to supply coolers to keep the lionfish fresh for longer, but on my last trip I discovered that the ones we had in mind were a bit large for the purpose – we’re now buying smaller ones that can be taken out on boats and easily transferred from boat to truck.

What do you need to fillet a lionfish?

lionfish choppingFilleting a lionfish is easier than you might expect…

  1. Put on some puncture-proof gloves.
  2. Snip off the venemous spines* using strong scissors or shears. Dispose of them carefully.
  3. Using your sharp knife, make a cut behind the gill, and then slice all the way down the fish’s back to fillet it. The skin should come off easily.

This is easier to do if the fish is chilled.

Lionfish snipping

Providing training and equipment makes fishers more able to process the lionfish they catch and supply it in the quantities needed by hotels. This in turn will contribute towards more lionfish being caught and numbers of this invasive predator decreasing, conserving Saint Lucia’s coral reefs.


*Lionfish are venomous, not poisonous. Eating or drinking poison causes you harm, but for venom to make you ill it needs to be injected into the bloodstream. This is why eating lionfish poses no danger, but it’s important not to get pricked by their spines!

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