A new NOAA study looking at how to curb the rapid growth of lionfish, an invasive species not native to the Atlantic Ocean, suggests that approximately 27 percent of mature lionfish will have to be removed monthly for one year to reduce its population growth rate to zero.
But the good news is that the invasive fish happens to be delicious—and NOAA is encouraging chefs to find new ways to introduce it to U.S. consumers.
Lionfish are native to the western and central Pacific Ocean, but have established themselves from North Carolina to South America. They are a popular aquarium fish that were likely first released in Florida waters in the mid-1980s. Since then, the species has spread rapidly. Scientists and public officials are seriously concerned at the effect lionfish are having on reef ecosystems, since this predator is capable of rapid population growth and outcompeting native fish for food and territory.