Above: a lionfish ready to be cooked
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The invasive lionfish remains a major problem for the Caribbean region, but Barbados is dealing with the problem in a unique way: with a derby.
The country’s next Lionfish Derby & Cookoff will take place on May 24 at Harbour Lights at the island’s Carlisle Bay in St Michael, part of an effort to bring the predator under control.
The Derby will begin with a lionfish hunt at sunrise, with participants returning to shore just before noon.
Next, some of Barbados’ top chefs will take over to prepare dishes using lionfish, with the public invited to sample their offerings. Chefs Marco Festini-Comer of Daphne’s Restaurant, Danny Oshea of Mojos restaurant, Renrick Williams of Bajan Boyz Entertainment, Henderson Butcher of Divi Southwinds and Oliver Hinds of the Waves Hotel will be on hand.
Caroline Bissada-Gooding, Marine Biologist at Barbados’ Coastal Zone Management Unit, said the lionfish derby was a large-scale cull where divers and fishermen would compete to catch as many of the predatory fish as possible.
“The fish has no natural predators and they eat the reef fish which could result in a decrease in their numbers and result in the island’s coral reef ecosystems collapsing,” she said.
She said lionfish posed a direct threat to Barbados’ fishing industry, economy and tourism sectors.
“The lionfish reproduces every four weeks, with over 15, 000 eggs each time,” she said. “That reproduction process can start from just under one year-old, so the population is exploding.”
Helping to control this problem will involve regular culls to keep their numbers in check, she said.
If the lionfish population can be reduced by 70 percent, she said, it could allow the reef fish room to survive.