The hunter is set to become the hunted.
And if the Coastal Zone Unit’s Lionfish Derby goes well on Saturday the dreaded fish will not only be decreased significantly, but may make its way on to menus and plates in restaraunts and home across the island.
Marine biologist with the unit, Caroline Bissada, said the fish had been spotted on all of Barbados’ coasts.
“We need to control the population. After reaching about a year, these fish reproduce every two weeks and produce about 15 000 eggs. We have caught lionfish measuring up to 35 inches. Just last week we caught 60 fish in varying lengths,” Bissada said of the invasive
She pointed out that because Barbados was the most easterly territory in the Caribbean, a plan was put in place after they realized the lionfish were in neighbouring waters.
Saturday’s derby is taking a two-pronged approach to the control of the lionfish population – encouraging people to catch as many lionfish as possible and heightening public awareness about the various use of the fish.
“We will be gathering at Harbour Lights at sunrise and we will go out and catch as many lionfish as possible. We will then come back in and around one o’clock in the afternoon we will have a cook-off. There will be persons on hand from the Fisheries Division who will demonstrate the correct handling and cleaning procedures and we will also have some of the islands top chefs who will demonstrate the preparation of the lionfish,” Bissada explained, adding that members of the public will have an opportunity to sample the delicacy.
Bissada added that the fish was growing in popularity but there was still a lot of ground to cover before it became a widely accepted dish.
“Right now those who know the proper way to handle and prepare the fish might find it hard to come by unless they fish themselves. If you happen to come upon a lionfish you might have to pay $10 a pound. It tastes a lot like snapper. It is a delicate white meat fish, very delicious. But generally fishermen are sticking to what they are accustomed to. Fishermen will be keen to fish the lionfish when the public is keen to eat the lionfish,” she said. (DB)