By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
Oceana Belize and the Soca Moca Carnival Band have teamed up to raise awareness about the invasive lionfish species and to encourage Belizeans to use it as an alternative food source.
According to Oceana Belize Vice President Janelle Chanona, the invasive species is eating its way through Belize’s juvenile fish population and surveys done at local fish markets show that more than 80 percent of the fish being caught and sold are juveniles.
“If we continue to eat the juveniles, and we don’t cull the lionfish, the consequences will be severe for all of us”, Chanona said.
Audrey Bradley, Soca Moca organizer, said her group is boldly portraying the lionfish in splendour, but she cautioned that this intruder should show Belizeans “that all that glitters is not gold.”
Lionfish are not native to Belize but have a huge appetite for native fish. They reproduce at an alarming rate, Bradley said.
She indicated that Soca Moca has decided to use its platform to bring national attention to the issue during the September celebrations for its critical importance to the marine environment.
According to Oceana, the lionfish, once relieved of its venomous fins, is delicious; a low-cost, healthy alternative to eating juvenile native fish. At the same time snacking on lionfish helps to eradicate the invasive species.
On Sunday, as part of Oceana’s sponsorship of the Soca Moca band, members from the group were treated to lionfish samples during their practice session at Roger’s Stadium.
The Hugh Parkey Dive Connection as well as the Placencia Producers Cooperative provided the freshly caught lionfish. The samples were filletted, lightly seasoned and fried. Soca Moca enjoyed the samples and kept demanding more.