Lionfish are an invasive species spanning from the East Coast to the Caribbean. They are responsible for a 90% decline in certain native species populations and they contribute to the degradation of coral reefs as they prey on the fish that eat the algae that is harmful to corals. Each year, female lionfish produce two million eggs.
To combat this native species, people in Florida and Cuba have joined the “invasivore” movement. In the United States, invasive species are responsible for $120 billion dollars of damage. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is urging restaurants to add lionfish to their menus and hoping that fishermen and traders participate in this movement as well. While eating invasive species to control population size is a less aggressive alternative to poisoning invasive species (which can also damage native species), consumers must also be careful about what types of animals they are eating (one study found that pythons in Florida have double the safe level of mercury). It is also important for people to take caution so that they do not further spread the invasive species as the dishes become more popular.