A campaign has been launched in Santa Marta to encourage the capture and eating of the invasive lionfish, which is responsible for damaging the delicate ecosystem of Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
The campaign, titled “if we can’t beat them, eat them!” seeks to teach local fisherman and tourists how to capture and prepare the rogue fish for eating. The lionfish has been classified as an invasive pest by the Colombian government and now locals in the Santa Marta region are doing what they can to prevent the continued spreading of the poisonous creatures.
The campaign teaches people how to properly use the fish in cooking and about the special nutritive qualities of the otherwise destructive under water creature.
As recently as 2009 a lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific, had never been seen in Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The rapid invasion of the beautiful but deadly creature has had a drastic effect on the local ecosystem by causing a reduction in biodiversity and a depletion of fish stocks. Local fisherman report that they are now catching only 30% or 40% of the fish that they used to catch prior to the arrival of the lionfish.
Native fish species do not recognise the lion fish as a predator and are unprepared to protect themselves, making them easy prey for the stripy and poisonous predator.
Locals involved in the “if we can’t beat them, eat them” campaign are convinced that the lionfish makes a delicious and nutritious meal, with some people even claiming the fish has special nutritive powers, such as making a man more virile for his wedding night.
The lionfish currently inhabits more than 90% of Colombia’s Caribbean reefs and is gobbling up native fish by the thousands.