Invasive Species: Is Eating Our Problem the Solution?

Created on Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Would you eat an invasive species? That is exactly what some environmental groups and scientists are suggesting the US population do to combat the invasion of aquatic species such as lionfish in Florida and Asian carp in the Mississippi.

Invasive lionfish are devastating natural ecosystems in Florida and the Caribbean by eating and outcompeting native reef fish for food and habitat. Asian Carp have invaded the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to the point that managers have spent millions of dollars on electronic barriers to keep the carp out of the great lakes. With booming populations and managers struggling to control these ruthless invaders, they are considering using the biggest weapon we as Americans have, an appetite. It is estimated that by commercially harvesting Asian Carp and Lionfish that the American appetite could be used as an effective “pest management” strategy.lionfish

There are some concerns with the harvesting of invasive species however. By creating a market for these species it may encourage the introduction of these invasive species into areas that they did not already inhabit for increased production, such as was the case with Tilapia introduced into Latin America for weed and bug control. Despite these concerns, the idea seams to already be catching on. The Food and Water Watch’s Smart Seafood Guide has already started to encourage consumers to seek out and consume invasive species. By consuming these invasive species we may be able to better control their populations as well as take fishing pressure off of other dwindling fish populations.

What about you, do you think eating invasive species is the solution? Apparently Lionfish is quite tasty. Food for thought, or for the sustainability of our oceans.