Lionfish have invaded the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean and spread as far south as Brazilian waters, but they aren’t alone! Invasive marine species have been wreaking havoc on indigenous ecological systems for thousands of years. More recently, we just keep better track. And it remains to be proved if we have the appetite to curb invasive species?
There are Asian carp in the Mississippi River system as far north as Chicago where only a last line of defense (literally an electrical barrier) keeps these aggressive predators at bay before they gain access into the Great Lakes. (photo -npr)
Already in the Great Lakes, are sea lampreys and zebra mussels flushed from the bilges of ships from the Black Sea. They suck blood from our fresh water perch and choke native shellfish.
After habitat destruction, invasive species are the second-most prevalent cause of global biodiversity loss and the physical damage they cause is extensive. In the United States alone the cost of invasive species is estimated to run into the tens of billions of dollars annually.
Here’s food for thought!
In 2004, Joe Roman, a conservation ecologist at the University of Vermont wrote an article titled “Eat the Invaders”. His simple proposition was to use “invasivorism” to feed our insatiable global appetite, and it caught on.
The following year Chef Bun Lai added invasive species to the menu of Miya’s, his sushi restaurant. In 2010 NOAA launched it’s “Eat Lionfish” campaign. In 2012 the State of Illinois harvested nearly 22,000 metric tons of invasive Asian carp and sold it back to China (from whence it came) and made a profit of $20 million.
Blue Ocean brought to you “The Lionfish Cookbook” by Tricia Ferguson and Lad Akins with 45 tantalizing recipes in our post: What’s for Dinner? Not Lionfish Again! More recently in What you need to know about Lionfish! we described how Lionfish are now being sold at Whole Foods fish counters.
Solutions are appetizing but the proof is in the pudding!
The solutions for controlling any invasive species are very complicated and unproven, especially as the spread of these species broadens. Last year, Fisheries and Oceans Canada reported there is an “extreme” risk that within 50 years, Asian carp could become established in three of the five Great Lakes, despite all the efforts to build aquatic barriers and promote harvest programs.
To get all of the details of taking a bite out of the invasive species problem see Scientific American.
By Bob Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
See these related Blue Ocean Posts:
How To Get More Ocean-Hearted Intel Delivered To Your Inbox!
We believe ocean lovers can change the world. If you care about the health of the ocean and want to do something about it, then connect with the Blue Ocean tribe: Our growing community of ocean change-makers is turning ocean lovers into ocean leaders. It starts with you. Join us!