[A]n increasing number of environmentalists, consumer groups and scientists are seriously testing a novel solution to control it and other aquatic invasive species — one that would also takes pressure off depleted ocean fish stocks: they want Americans to step up to their plates and start eating invasive critters in large numbers…
While most invasive species are not commonly regarded as edible food, that is mostly a matter of marketing, experts say. Imagine menus where Asian carp substitutes for the threatened Chilean sea bass, or lionfish replaces grouper, which is overfished.
“What these species need now is a better — sexier — profile, and more cooks who know how to use them,” she said. She has enlisted celebrity chefs to promote eating the creatures.
Scientists emphasize that human consumption is only part of what is needed to control invasive species and restore native fish populations, and that a comprehensive plan must include restoring fish predators to depleted habitats and erecting physical barriers to prevent further dissemination of the invaders.
“We are not going to be able to just eat our way out of the invasive species problem,” Dr. Kramer said. “On the other hand, there are places where this can be a very useful part of the strategy.”
Sexy invasive species, huh? I’m sure all it would take would be to show the Pretty Little Liars dining on lionfish at Nobu, or the cast of Glee imitating the flight of the Asian carp. But as the Times article states, once there’s a market for it, demand will result in supply – which is what the problem was in the first place!
I read another article recently on how some schools are considering using these invasive species as part of the cafeteria lunch menu. I’m not sure how that will fly with parents, but what about as meals for soup kitchens, food banks and homeless shelters? Those sort of places are constantly dealing with low supplies and the threat of closing down. Of course, the actual harvesting of these species would have to be funded…perhaps by the American government? At least they’re not suggesting introducing a new species to eradicate the problem – yet!
Photo from The New York Times