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Project

Lionfish on the menu

Project Aims

Our goal is to contribute to the eradication of the invasive lionfish species, supporting the conservation of native reef fish stocks around Saint Lucia. To achieve this, we aim to demonstrate the economic value of catching and selling lionfish by building supply-chain links between fishing co-operatives and tourist restaurants.

Why

The rapid and devastating invasion of the lionfish in the Caribbean Sea is threatening the survival of coral reef systems, reducing native fish numbers by up to 80%¹. In Saint Lucia, lionfish populations are increasing, but consumption is low.

This is partly due to the misconception that the fish is poisonous and can’t be eaten (although the spines are venomous, with correct handling they can be easily and safely removed).

 

Latest Activities

  • We have collected data on the number of lionfish currently caught and the income that this generates for fishers. We also researched the potential for sales of lionfish to hotels and restaurants, revealing significant opportunities exist.
  • Around 60 fishers are engaged in the project and have received training into how to safely handle and prepare lionfish for sale.
  • We have purchased and distributed equipment to these fishers to enable safe handling and processing.
  • We have delivered a training workshop for hotel chefs and purchasing managers, supported by the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, to encourage the chefs to put lionfish on the menu, as well as to train them in how to safely handle and process the fish.  The workshop was followed by the inclusion of lionfish as a mystery ingredient for Saint Lucia’s high profile, annual chefs in schools culinary competition.
  • We are working with fishers, wholesalers, hotels and restaurants to establish effective distribution channels and linkages.
  • We are raising awareness with hotels and restaurants of the benefits of buying lionfish and how to source it.
  • We are supporting hotels to promote lionfish to customers, providing communication materials.

Benefits

A decrease in lionfish populations will help to conserve one of the island’s main tourist attractions – the coral reef, which is Saint Lucia’s largest marine protected area. In the longer term, populations of native reef fish should increase.

Hotels and restaurants involved will be able to demonstrate their commitment to conservation to their customers.

The project will also benefit fishing communities, through increased incomes and conservation of local fish stocks.

Lionfish

 

[1] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-eating-lionfish-work/