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Lionfishing, Green Crabbing, and Carp Dunking: Southern Fried Science Book Club, week 3

First off, let me just say, that invasive Asian Carp really do jump out of the water and whack people in the face.

Of all the chapters we’ve read so far, these three were the first that really made me want to try eating invasive species. Maybe it’s because I’m an ocean person, but those fish sounded delicious.

The lionfish chapter was especially intriguing, since I spent a lot of time on the southern tip of Eleuthera during 2001, though I don’t recall ever seeing a single lionfish. I do remember lionfish from the coast of North Carolina, where they’ve taken hold and now completely dominate the local shipwrecks. Lionfish are a nightmare. They have no predators in Atlantic waters. They are extremely fecund. They are voracious generalists, happy to eat anything that fits in their mouths. Most worrying, they can’t be fished via conventional means. Lionfish don’t take the bait, they have to be speared, but they also occur at depths of greater then 200 meters, well beyond any recreation SCUBA or freediving limits.

This creates a huge conundrum. Developing an effective, functional lionfish fishery requires a major retooling of the current fishing infrastructure and retraining local fishers. But that also creates a financial, commercial incentive not to eradicate lionfish. Once they become a viable commercial fishery, they have to be managed for sustainability, not eradication. And that is the great lionfish paradox. We can turn them into a commercially viable food–lionfish are delicious–but we can’t to that and eradicate them. Since it’s unlikely we’ll be able to eradicate them anyway, establishing a commercial fishery might be the only viable choice in managing lionfish.

The green crab chapter was fun. It reminded me of eating pea-crabs that are often found tucked inside oysters during a downeast oyster roast. If they taste anything like that, then they’re probably quite tasty.

And then we come to carp. Carp. I have many thoughts on carp, but instead of another long rant about Jackson’s complex relationship with government regulators, I’ll leaving you with one word. Skarping.

How did you feel about the chapters on lionfish, green crabs, and carp? Would you eat a green crab whole? Please use the comments below to discuss.


Deep-sea biologist, population/conservation geneticist, backyard farm advocate. The deep sea is Earth's last great wilderness.


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