Lionfish Initiative Spearheaded By Whole Foods In Florida

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Florida Stores First Region to Offer New “Spearited” Catch of the Day

We are not purposely low tech, but we do not use tracking devices for news topics we care about (this topic we have tended to leave to Phil Karp, a contributor who first brought it to our attention a few years ago, and is highly attuned to the news and trends related to lionfish entrepreneurial conservation). We just watch the news sources we are inclined to trust, and try to get exposed to new news sources as frequently as possible. Those of us tracking news from India sometimes are late picking up important stories, like this one that has already been out for more than a day as it comes to our attention.

No matter. We like it, and for the record we want to share good news when we encounter it. This comes from ABC television affiliate WWSB in Florida, USA. We consider it a public service announcement, and so quote in full here, but still please click to the source of the story so they get credit:

A hub for certified sustainable seafood, Whole Foods Market® is excited to offer shoppers a fresh and delicious new seafood option – lionfish. The fish is a nonnative, invasive species that has a potential negative impact on indigenous species and habitat. By reducing the number of lionfish in the wild, Whole Foods Market® will help to improve the serious environmental threat they cause.

As a coastal region relying heavily on seafood as a food source, all 26 Whole Foods Market® stores in Florida are thrilled to announce their involvement as part of the solution to protecting the surrounding waterways and its inhabitants – all while providing an alternative, affordable and delicious seafood option.

With the first sighting in Florida in 1985, lionfish continue to expand at astonishing speeds and are harming native coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. With capabilities of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering environments, the invasive species with a flowing mane of venomous spines is considered a predator in the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea.

Lionfish is versatile. From ceviche to a simple pan sauté, its white, buttery meat lends itself to any number of different recipes. With hopes of creating a demand for fishermen to scale their operations and catch more lionfish, Whole Foods Market® hopes to move the seafood industry toward greater sustainability, creating healthier ecosystems and reversing trends in overfishing and bycatch.

The thoroughly trained team members of Whole Foods Market® will receive the lionfish in-store and execute all necessary preparations for shoppers including the removal of the venomous spines. Once caught and placed on ice, the lionfish physically cannot release venom from the gland, ensuring safe consumption for shoppers. Whole lionfish is available at an affordable $9.99 per pound, with a special introductory price of $8.99 per pound from Wednesday, May 25th to Tuesday, May 31st. Store team members can also assist in menu planning and recipe tips.

The Whole Foods Market seafood department is held to the highest standards, requiring that all seafood offered is either certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, or rated green or yellow by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Even if a species is abundant – which is clearly the case for lionfish – the rating still remains important to ensure that fisheries and catch methods for lionfish aren’t harming other species in the process. “In an effort to educate the public on the importance of lionfish removal, promotions such as this will encourage continued involvement in proactively and successfully removing lionfish from coastal waters,” says David Ventura, Whole Foods Market® Seafood Coordinator for the Florida region.

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