Catching Lionfish and eating them or selling them to restaurants can be a Good thing. Fist it can provide a source of revenue for our local fishermen and second it can help to rid our waters of the invasive Lionfish. While NOAA continues to promote their Catch and Eat program and Reef now promoting their new Lionfish Cook Book, it seems all is good. Up until recently Lionfish have been thought to be immune to or unable to carry the Ciguatera Toxin, but that has now changed. Scientists and researchers from UVI, St. Thomas, have been doing a study on ciguatera fish poisoning in the territory. Tyler Smith and his students at UVI’s Center for Marine and Environmental Studies have spent the last year collecting samples of plants, algae and fish at four sites on a monthly basis and sending them to the project’s investigators for analysis. Alison Robertson, a bio-analytical chemist with the Food and Drug Administration, has been studying the fish samples Smith and his students have been collecting. Alison Robertson looked at seven lionfish caught in the V.I. and found four of them were toxic. So the facts have changed, Lionfish can carry the Ciguatera Toxin. According to NOAA, no conclusive study has ever been performed in regards to the Lionfish and Ciguatera and we were advised by NOAA to address eating Lionfish as we would with any other reef fish, with caution. What we need then from the scientific community, NOAA, is to let us know what areas are ok for people to catch and eat Lionfish. Here in the USVI with our warmer waters, I would suggest not eating them until more conclusive studies have been done. Out of the seven Lionfish that were tested, four tested positive for Ciguatera, almost 60%. As the invasion of the Lionfish continues to the South and to warmer waters, I would imagine we will see more cases of Lionfish carrying the toxin. One thing for sure, you do not want to get Ciguatera Poisoning. Ciguatera affects multiple organ systems and has impressive gastrointestinal, neurologic, cardiovascular, dermatological, genitourinary, and emotional components. This is not something you would want to experience.
I know that several people, restaurant owners would like to try cooking the fish here on St. Croix. Please pass this information on to anyone you may know who may be thinking about cooking and eating them or any restaurants owners you may know who are toying with the idea of cooking and serving them. When it comes to eating Lionfish, be safe and use caution.
You can read the entire article about the studies in St. Thomas and the fish testing positive for Ciguatera Toxin in the article below.blog comments powered by Disqus