Lion tamers wanted, must like to fish

Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 11:42 AM.

Following the discussion by Shepard, Faletti and Robinson at the Sci-Cafe, attendees were treated to lionfish supplied by Shepard and prepared by Tamara’s Chef Danny Itzkovitz, who said he dredged the fish in seasoned flour and pan-fried them whole. They were crisp and tasty with white meat similar to grouper.

While attendees sampled the fish, Shepard demonstrated the safe way to clean them. He said the best way to hold a lionfish is by inserting a finger into the mouth. He used sharp shears to cut away the entire length of the spines. Removing the entire spine is important; they are poisonous for their entire length.

After removing the spines, Shepard gutted the fish, and said the scales could be removed by squirting the fish with a strong stream of water. “You can scale them with a garden hose,” he said.

Both FWC and US Fish and Wildlife encourage catching lionfish of all sizes whenever possible. You do not need a saltwater fishing license to harvest them in Florida, there is no bag limit or minimum size, and they can be harvested year-round. Destroying young lionfish before they reproduce is vital. Divers may also harvest lionfish using a rebreather.

FWC and local entities across the state have begun staging lionfish roundups. A record was set last month in Jacksonville when 1042 lionfish were taken in a single day.

Everyone is encouraged to report lionfish when they are sighted. You can do so at Smartphone users can download an app that allows them to report sightings of the fish.

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