Street Fair Lionfish

Blue skies, pumping music, and delicious chocolate treats; sounds like a recipe for a good day. The Toledo Chocolate Fest had these and more on its Taste of Toledo street fair May 25th.

The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) jumped right into the festivities with a lionfish booth.

The Indo-Pacific native fish is now a part of marine ecosystems throughout the Caribbean, even inhabiting our Belizean waters. Lionfish have been found in coastal mangroves, sea grass beds, coral reefs and continental slopes. As an invasive with no natural predators, a taste for native fish and ability to spawn year-round, it is essential to understand the impacts of the lionfish to our ecosystems.

It has been accepted that the eradication of the population is unrealistic. Thus came about a new movement “If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em!”

Lionfish makes for delicious, delicate, economical fillets that offer a good source of protein. There are no catch limits and they can be prepared dozens of ways. Diners who choose lionfish are not only getting a delicious fish; they are making a direct contribution to preserving our coral reefs and our communities.

TIDE spread the word, by running a lionfish tasting booth, incorporating Belikin’s Chocolate Stout, kindly donated on the day by Bowen & Bowen, to keep with the theme of the festival. The crispy stout-battered lionfish fingers were a hit among locals and tourists alike, with many first-time eaters coming back for more.

Over 90% of tasters, said they would eat lionfish again and many would buy it at market if it were available. At the 2012 TIDE Fest, when asked how much they would

pay per pound, the majority said between BZ$2-3, however, this year showed an increase to around BZ$5. Around 70% also stated that they would eat lionfish instead of snapper or grouper, suggesting there may be a market for the invasive fish.

Live filleting demonstrations also brought in the crowds, showing the safe and correct way to prepare the fish for cooking.

In exchange for the fish finger samples, diners were asked to fill out a questionnaire about lionfish. TIDE

compiled all results, and compared them with the answers from last year’s TIDE Fest questionnaire. Take a look at our findings!

Lionfish.jpg

A big thanks to ReefCI for providing the lionfish and supporting outreach at the booth, TIDE community researcher, Victor Williams, for the filleting demonstrations, and the rest of our volunteers that helped make this booth such a success.

TIDE Research and Monitoring Team

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