Eating Invasive Species

Florida fishing derbies have a new target – to catch the invasive lionfish which threaten the Keys’ ecosystem, reports the New York Times.  The lionfish is from the Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea, and was introduced sometime in the 1990’s. Already, the lionfish have spread up the East Coast to North Carolina and through the Caribbean.

LionfishThe problem with lionfish is that they have voracious appetites and eat other fish species. They also are rapid breeders, and females can lay up to 2 million eggs a year. With no known predators, there’s no natural way to stop the lionfish from taking over entire areas and wiping out natural fish species. Unless humans step in and kill lionfish, which is becoming known as a tasty fish.

Invasivores, as the New York Times calls them, could play a very useful role in helping to control lionfish and other invasive species. Aside from lionfish, some fisheries biologists are suggesting the Asian carp be renamed to “Kentucky Tuna” to make it appealing to diners.

The idea of eating invasive species is not new, but it may hold a conservation key to help natural species survive. And both meat eaters and vegans can participate. Vegans can dine on salads that include weeds such as the field mustard or turnip mustard plant Brassica rapa. Or parts of dandelions.

Human appetites have been proven to be powerful forces in nature. Let’s use them to eliminate invasive species!

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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