FWC: Venomous Invasive Lionfish Can Be Filleted Like Any Other Fish with Caution
By Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission // August 25, 2020
lionfish have 18 venomous spines and can reproduce every 4 days
ABOVE VIDEO: How to Fillet a Lionfish.
FLORIDA FISH & WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION – Lionfish are invasive, and these nonnative fish that have 18 venomous spines can inhabit ocean depths of up to 1,000 feet and can reproduce every four days.
They are tasty and safe to eat, just fillet them like you would any other fish, but as a safety precaution, wear puncture-resistant gloves or remove the spines before filleting as the venom can remain active even if the fish is dead.
Some also choose to cut off the spines prior to filleting. Use care when doing this as the venomous glandular tissue located within the grooves of the spines are present even at the base of the spine.
Furthermore, the venom can remain active in the spines even after the lionfish is dead and stored on ice.
Once you’ve gotten the spines under control, fillet like you would any other fish, making incisions just behind the spines on the head down to the belly, down the back of the fish near the dorsal spines and along the bottom of the fish, joining the three cuts together.
The skin can be peeled off from the cut closest to the head, or you can continue to cut the filet away from the body and then cut the filet from the skin after it has been removed from the body.
Native to the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea, lionfish can be found year-round in Florida waters and from North Carolina to South America, including the Gulf of Mexico.
They can be found in almost all estuarine and marine habitat types and have been found in waters up to 1,000 feet deep.
Rarely caught on hook-and-line, the most effective methods of removal are spearing and using a hand-held net. Care should be taken when spearfishing so that the spears do not impact and damage reefs.
Lionfish are also caught as bycatch in the commercial lobster and stone crab trap industry.
There is evidence that lionfish are not actually getting stuck in traps but can come and go as they please, only being harvested when they happen to be inside the trap as it is being pulled up.
The practice of feeding lionfish to other predatory species while diving should be avoided because it is dangerous and illegal. It is also proven to not be effective.