The lionfish, a native of the Western Pacific Ocean, is a venomous, voracious predator that’s flourishing in coastal waters of the U.S. Southeast and the Caribbean.
Classified as an invasive species, lionfish have the potential to harm reef ecosystems because it is a top predator that competes for food and space with native species such as snapper and grouper.
In the United States, the lionfish population is continuing to grow and increase its range. Lionfish have no known predators and reproduce all year long; a mature female releases roughly two million eggs a year.
To combat invasive lionfish, NOAA scientists are now encouraging a seafood market as one way to mitigate the species’ impacts on reef communities.
Once stripped of its venomous spines, cleaned, and filleted like any other fish, lionfish are edible. Lionfish yield mild white fillets which can be used in most traditional fish recipes.