Eat them before they eat everything
August 7th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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A growing number of conservationists are advocating the consumption of invasive species in an effort to fend off environmental destruction.

Invasive species, as defined by the USDA’s National Agricultural Library, aren't native to the local ecosystem and may cause economic, environmental or medical harm. They can exist in many forms: plants, animals or even microorganisms.

Many of the invasive plants, such as dandelion and purslane, were originally introduced by settlers for medicinal or ornamental reasons, while many of the invasive animals like Asian carp and green iguanas were brought in as food sources, pets or for pest control.

Mongooses, one example, were originally imported from Southeast Asia to control rodent and snake populations in Caribbean and Hawaiian agricultural fields.  The Hawaii Invasive Species Partnerships has since estimated that the species causes $50 million in damages each year in Puerto Rico and Hawaii alone.

From feral hogs running wild in Texas to lionfish eating their way through the Gulf of Mexico to kudzu, whose nickname “the vine that ate the South” speaks for itself, the United States is facing an invasion of the natural resource snatchers.

While kudzu may have swallowed up the South, conservationists and food activists are encouraging American consumers to bite back.

“Why not combine the growing locavore movement with an ecological awareness and try and reduce some of these species?” says Joe Roman, conservation biologist, author and editor of “It’s unlikely we’re ever going to eat them to extinction but we can reduce the numbers that are there and also get an excellent meal.”

Because these species typically won’t encounter natural predators, it’s primarily up to humans to control or remove the invaders. Some managerial methods involve mechanical control, like digging or mowing, or chemical control, like pesticides and herbicides. Or, people could eat them.

There are, of course, major hurdles with upping the consumption of invasive species. For one, most could use an image overhaul.

“Here in America, we’ve raised two generations of consumers to think that only luxury cut from the center of the animal is what we should eat,” says Andrew Zimmern, the host of “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel. “And only from three or four animals, I might add.”

Nutria, for example, is a giant water-born rodent – but many chefs compare the taste to that of a succulent rabbit. It’s all about consumer perception.

“You start to stretch our food imagination, we can take it in sorts of great directions,” says Zimmern.

“Think of a species that now shows up on menus that people wouldn’t have dreamed of eating maybe a decade or two ago. There is certainly an ‘ick factor’ we’re going to have to get over to promote this,” says Roman.

Chef Bun Lai, at his restaurant Miya’s in New Haven, Connecticut, actively pursues this sort of rebranding.

Miya’s offers an invasive species menu, with ingredients like European green crabs, lionfish, knotweed and wild swans, that threaten the local ecosystems.

“We hope that this will do a few things. First of all, it could potentially curb the dominance of invasive species in the ecosystem. Secondly, it would provide the seafood industry a greater supply of native seafood and reduce the stresses on those populations already fished,” Lai explains on the restaurant’s website. “Finally, we hope that it would encourage greater balance in the inter-regenerative relationship between man and the oceans.”

As with any strategy though, there are always risks. First, not all invasive species are safe for human consumption. Providing educational resources about how to prepare certain species (for lionfish, remove the poisonous spines) and what is and is not safe to forage is crucial.

Secondly, marketing an invasive species could encourage less scrupulous entrepreneurs to move these species where they didn’t already exist because they are potentially lucrative, Roman says. That could easily backfire and spread the species’ destruction even further.

Then, there are concerns of depleting the population, which Zimmern adds, wouldn’t be a bad thing because, after all, they’re not naturally supposed to be there.

“Let’s get to the point where they’re extinct or nearly extinct and then they’re a manageable resource. Let’s farm them, let’s do other things with it, but we can’t just let these invasive species be out in the wild,” he says.

Although population control is obviously at the forefront of the invasive species battle and consumer appeal is only part of the invasive solution, Zimmern says there is another opportunity: take them out of the ecosystem and find a way to feed hungry people.

“The biggest problem with the invasive species argument - in terms of not eating them - is people are hungry, these are good foods,” he says.

With protein’s high expense and one in six people living in hunger, Zimmern advocates in collecting invasive species and using that meat to feed children, seniors, people in the jail system and other people living below the poverty line.

“I will tell you right now, as someone that’s had a bologna sandwich in jail, I would prefer to eat nutria every day of the week,” he says.

Spaghetti and Periwinkles (Snails)
Serves 4 to 6
Used with permission from

About 2 cups of periwinkles in shells
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups plum tomatoes from the garden, or a 20 oz. can of imported Italian plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti
Grated Parmesan cheese
Italian bread

Wash the snails in cold water. Add periwinkles to a pot of boiling water, along with a small handful of salt to shrink and toughen the meat. (This eases their removal.) The snails are ready when the operculum falls off.

Remove the periwinkles from their shells with a nutpick or pin. (This can be time consuming, find an assistant if you can.)

Sauté garlic in olive oil. Add parsley and tomatoes, and cook for about 30 minutes.

Boil four quarts of water. Add spaghetti, and remove when soft but still firm to the bite. At the same time that you add the spaghetti, add the periwinkles to the sauce.

Mix the pasta and sauce in a warm bowl. Serve hot, with crusty Italian bread and grated Parmesan cheese.

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Filed under: Andrew Zimmern • Celebrity Chefs • Content Partner • Eatocracy TV • Environment • Favorites • Invasive Species • Make • News • Recipes • Think • TV-CNN Newsroom • Video

soundoff (298 Responses)
  1. DONNA


    August 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  2. Piranha

    Deep Fried Lion Fish or Asian Carp, with prepared invasive plants for Salad on the side on Italian dressing (or your preference), a heaping pile of French Fries, Coke or for YOU EWRUFIANS a glass of white wine and Presto, instant exotic gastronomic meal. Hey More LionFish and Carps here, pronto. Invasive Species (spiced up) solved.

    August 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  3. abd

    Periwinkles, native to the Maine coast were in abundance when I was a kid, now their population is so depleted there's not 2 cups worth to be found in any one visit to the shore...and this article explains why....

    August 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  4. aerodog

    Put the word out to the Japanese and Chinese community that lionfish are a great aphrodisiac and they will eat the lionfish into extinction just like they are doing to the rhinoceros.

    August 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  5. Spreading My Cheeks

    Do wetbacks crossing the Rio Grande count as an edible invasive specie???

    August 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  6. MSM

    If you can't beat them, eat them. Yes, humans are really great at eating things to near extinction so it's a great twist on fish conservation to advocate eating lionfish to save other species including commercial fish. Since lionfish are an invasive species (no natural predators in their adopted environment), taking them out of an ecosystem by eating them for supper actually helps biodiversity. Apparently they taste pretty good too:

    August 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  7. Russell

    "Invasive species, as defined by the USDA’s National Agricultural Library, aren't native to the local ecosystem and may cause economic, environmental or medical harm. They can exist in many forms: plants, animals or even microorganisms."

    They are talking about humans here, right? That's exactly what we do!

    August 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  8. Dinka

    I've always said that there must be some way to convert kudzu into biofuel...that would turn an invasive species into a renewable energy source for the US!

    August 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • reen b

      That would be an awesome solution. And, it's obviously a tough plant, why can't we use it for rope and fibers like we do hemp or bamboo (the bamboo also being invasive in some areas)?

      October 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  9. Carla

    Wow... I did not even had to read the aentire article but let me see, humans are going to do what we do best. Messs up the ecosystem. then mess with something even bigger, evolution!!! Has anyone stopped to think why those species may eb thriving in our new set of conditions. Let's not eat them all, we may regret it in the long term.

    August 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • AeroEng

      As the article said, invasive species are much harder to reduce in numbers than any other species. So eating them to extinction status is very unlikely at the present.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • JellyBean

      "Has anyone stopped to think ..." Apparently you haven't.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Frank

      By applying your logic and I use that term loosely, I can put polar bears in the south pole and have them destroy the penguin population, and you would say its evolution at work,

      Open a biology book

      August 8, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • keltari

      Its impossible for evolution to take place when there are no animals left to evolve. Take Guam, for example; Guam has no native snakes. The brown snake hitched a ride on boats to the island and with no predators, within a few years they almost completely wiped out all of the small animals on the island. Most of the native vertebrate species on the island are now extinct.

      August 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  10. Jeann

    Eating invasive species. Please!
    You Americans have SUCH undignified tastes. Like little children with their chicken nuggets.

    Europeans are so much more refined.

    August 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • palintwit

      Europeans can't be that much more refined. Afterall, they don't have their own version of Sarah Palin.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • JellyBean

        LM AO! Too funny!

        August 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • AeroEng

      Not all dishes made from invasive species are disgusting. For example, consider the Asian Carp, which is an invasive species of mostly the Mississippi river basin. It's actually a common dish, especially in China. Black tiger shrimp is another example of such a species.

      So not all dishes made from invasive species are disgusting. In fact, I think you should be a little bit disgusted because you made such harsh conclusions so quickly from what (little) you knew.

      August 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Arthurrrr

      i love how creeps like you need to feel superior by putting down 300,000,000

      August 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • wsj

      Europeans smell and have yellow teeth. If that is refinement count me out. You are gross.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  11. DC

    Ick! =o)

    August 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  12. Joe

    "Let’s farm them, let’s do other things with it, but we can’t just let these invasive species be out in the wild"
    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Humans are, by far, the most invasive species on the planet. Let's work on getting people to stop having more than one baby, and then we can get on our high horse.

    August 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Conan the Barbarian

      We are not invasive. We are conquerors!

      August 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • jeff

      less than 1 baby? one of the biggest demographic issues right now is the problem of productive replacement– much of the west is having kids at too slow of a rate to support an aging population. more important is educating our young (and perhaps you, since you're clueless)

      August 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Just Sayin'

      Yes. Half babies for everyone is the real answer.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  13. Pea tear griffin

    I agree the most invasive specie is by far humans. A virus that I am not sure the earth will ever be able to get rid of.
    Yes, I am included as a fleshy virus...

    August 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Joe Mama

      Wow, dude. That's like totally deep. And your ideas on how to improve things are truly impressive.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • jlv

      Take some antibiotics then, because the rest of us are perfectly healthy. I hear the hemlock is nice this time of year.

      August 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • mrugly72

      Mr. Smith said it first.

      August 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  14. Sandra

    Humans brought the fish into the environment not native to the fish, therefore the fish should hardly be blamed. Plus the argument of "eat them before they eat everything" can be applied to humans and you hardly see that plan of action being taken.

    August 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • peridot2

      The invasive species are damaging the environment by killing the native species, eating them, and outbreeding because they have no natural predators or fewer natural predators. You're missing the point, Sandra: they don't belong where they've been imported and they need to be eradicated.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • jlv

      Do you cheer mass murderers, or killers for that matter period? This is a sick mentality that leads people to believe that life is not precious and then go around destroying it. And why is it sick people like you are in no hurry to leave this planet. Why is it you always foist your sick solutions on everyone else. Is it because you are a coward, or just a selfish hypocrite?

      August 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
      • ceg10

        Ok, before you get all emotional about this fish and I love my saltwater hobby too, we have a other animal problems that if we do not control the numbers the result is devastating. The tiger shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico from Asia can be found the size of lobsters and they are eating the shrimp. The Carp, that people had in their man made ponds is dominating the Mississpii River eating everything and heading to the Great Lakes! The Python Snakes in Florida has been challenging the Gators there and in some cases winning. Just imagine a world without shrimp to eat because they cost way to much, or the only fish you can buy is Carb and they have way too many bones, or now instead of watching out for Gators you now have to bigger threat of Python 15 – 25 foot snakes weighing 900+ pounds and can crush you and swallow you whole. If you still don't get it, buy a female and male cat and don't spade her and don't neutor him and watch your problem multiply and multiply and multiply. All the author here is saying: We need to control and keep watch over our eco-system and environment or it will be too late for us and what we currently have...!

        August 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  15. John Eldredge

    Kudzu roots, which can be as large as a human, are made into a flour that is used in East Asian cooking.

    August 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  16. wiffofanus

    cover em in hot sauce and i'll eat the fukers

    August 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • AeroEng

      lol, what a monster...

      August 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  17. PackingAPound

    I am helping with the removal of wild pigs. I see one I just gut shoot it and let it run into the woods and bleed out. Ive unloaded clips into herds of those filthy bast**** and let them scatter like roaches.

    August 8, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • reality check

      What a waste of good BBQ! Up here in the North GA mountains, me & my cousins will have a big boar hunt, then fire up our huge smoker.The women whip up some side dishes, we send junior into town for a couple of kegs, and we have a big party.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • TC

      Torture is a good method of removing invasive species?

      August 8, 2012 at 11:54 am |
      • Georges

        Yes, now lets start with invasive people...

        August 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
        • AleeD®

          Hear, hear.

          August 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Simon

      That's actualy illegal. Hunters may not shoot prey and allow it to run away. They are obligated to find the prey and end its suffering. Not only that, you have to remove the body in whole. What state do you live that you think allows you to do this?

      August 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • Georges

        He's NOT hunting. He is killing for the sake of killing. Next he will move on to people when he can't get a thrill out of pigs anymore. No hunter I know would do this. I have seen guys track an animal for 7-8 hours to find it. He's a rednecktard with a gun who probably doesn't even have a permit.

        August 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
        • peridot2

          What of your post, Georges? Considering the recent massacres it's not in the least amusing. It's quoted below for you to deny in all of its grammatical and inflammatory ignorance:

          'Yes, now lets start with invasive people...'

          August 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Joe

      Here's hoping the FBI is reading this post.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  18. Second Cumming

    Eat Mor Chikin'.

    August 8, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  19. killian101

    Lionfish make cool pets for big salt water tanks. feral hogs make good bacon, pork chops, sausage, and more bacon. Asian Carp...well, clean it, salt/pepper, grill it, profit

    August 8, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Simon

      They are lovely but you cannot keep other fish with them unless they are much larger. Lionfish will eat fish (or try to) the same size as themselves. I actualy prefer the smaller versions that don't get bigger than 3-4 inches. The more common lionfish (pictured) can get over 6 inches in just body length (never mind the fins/spines.)

      August 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  20. levi

    Every year in Belize on Ambergris Caye they have a lionfish roundup and cooking contest. Grab your gear an head down to join in.

    August 8, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Bob

      We have the same thing in Bermuda ive been spearfishing for about 3 years now and i see them almost everytime hanging out under ledges i shoot them everytime. We have about 2 roundups a year to go out and kill them the person with the most of them gets a prize. But its still not making a dent in the population. If you dive down to 250 feet here there's thousands of them.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:48 am |
      • peridot2

        They're not invasive in Belize or Bermuda. They are in the Gulf of Mexico where they're rapidly crowding out native species.

        August 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  21. Floyd Johnson

    How can an invasive species article not, at least in passing, mention Australia. They are trying to eradicate invasive species from blackberries to camels. Many plant and tree species were eliminated by rabbits.

    August 8, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • reality check

      Rabbits make good BBQ too. Don't know what to do about those darn cane toads, though.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:53 am |
      • Simon

        Any meat that is heavily season like BBQ can be good BBQ. Not sure about reptiles or fish, but any bird/mammal is good BBQ.

        August 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  22. cowstastegood

    When visiting and hunting/camping on my families property in Louisiana you always go to have flour with you in case you run across a Nutria. They make good po boys. We call it the other white meat.

    August 8, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  23. Primal 4 Life

    Kill it then grill it baby!

    August 8, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  24. Historybear

    Put a bounty of 5 dollars a fish on lionfish and similar pest and let the fishermen and scuba divers make some cash. Then turn the little suckers into fertilizer. Nutria- make fur fashionable again and sell the meat as "water Rabbitt". Come on people, get with it. The florda snake problem and monkey problem- same thing. Legalize their killing and pay a bounty. Pretty much solve the problem.

    August 8, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • DiveInsructor

      How about just waiving the spear fishing license for those going after lionfish alone? Its a rare dive between FL and NC that you don't see the blasted things these days. Most of us would be happy to shoot on sight- I've even tried stepping on the vermin- but fees and permits are a barrier. They hang relatively still and make easy targets for a basic pole spear.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Jazzfester

      There is already a bounty on Nutria of $5 per tail, I believe, and hog hunts are going in that direction. Feral hog is delicious. Piglets are even better. If you go out at the right time of year, after the sows give birth, and shoot at a group of piglets, it has been my experience that a 30.06 will go completely through 3 piglets and into 1 more–dinner.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • dzerres

      Offering a bounty presents a new problem: some folks will grow them just for the bounty. I don't necessarily see myself eating lion fish but why not make these and other invasive species like snakes and nutria into dog food or other animal feed? Protein is protein to a dog, cat, or zoo animals.

      August 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  25. jose

    Nutria sounds like it should either be the plural of nutrient or some sort of disease. they should consider calling it something else as a nickname. sometimes an animal's name has a lot of influence on how people perceive it. And make sure it's not something cute because then people don't want to eat that either. the italians call it castorino. that sounds more like a delicacy than nutria or river rat. it's all about PR

    August 8, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • xavi

      Sounds nutritious to me, which is a good thing.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Louwee gee in orangeburg NY

      I like " Water rabbits " ... Feral Hog – the leanest bacon or smoked chop you can have ... A little gamey though ... Lionfish ? .. Just dont get stung – more like a fate worst than death or they hurt so much you'd wish you were dead ...

      August 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  26. Hb374i

    Q. an 'Invasive Species' is.......
    A. human being?

    August 8, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Jerome Horowitz

      You beat me to it.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • HateWhiners

      Cry me a river, treehugger. Jump off a bridge and free the world of one less of an "invasive species".

      August 8, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  27. Bob

    And let's not forget that most scrumptious of invasive species of Class Insecta – the Asian cockroach. Tastes great fried as an appetizer, boiled in gumbo, and not bad as a pizza topping either.

    August 8, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  28. Ludwig

    There are two things we do really well in this country.
    1. Kill things
    2. Convince people to buy/consume things whether they need them or not.

    What's the problem?

    August 8, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • jlv

      Good points.

      August 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  29. Meros

    When I read the headline of this article, I thought it was about Chinese people. SORRY!

    August 8, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Dave

      I thought this was about liberals and nature activists.

      August 8, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Mikki that is funny!

      August 8, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Derek

      only problem is your always hungrier after eating chinese .. j/k :)

      August 8, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • AeroEng

      Seriously, you just insulted at least a billion people.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
      • Seriously

        "Seriously ..." Seriously?

        August 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  30. Easy E

    Eradicate Nutria. Those animals are just wrong, wrong, wrong.

    August 8, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  31. scott

    I use to think that these fish where very expensive because there so pretty looking, until I asked the clerk in the store what the price was, I was shock they where so cheap, they are really cool looking.

    August 8, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Historybear

      And that's the problem Cool looking and when the owner doesn't want them anymore, they drop them in a canal or similar and bingo- problem.

      August 8, 2012 at 10:57 am |
      • peridot2

        They were accidentally released into the wild during Hurricane Andrew, just like the pythons.

        August 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  32. kevgood

    Good job thinking outside of the box w/ this article. I don't know if harvesting invasive species for food or for sport is the solution to the problem or not, but in order to tackle the problem, we may have to get creative.

    August 8, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  33. Retired Army Officer

    You're such a witty fellow.

    How have we managed to survive for so long without your saged, real reasoned logic?

    August 8, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  34. mjoener

    This article is less than a year old and I could not find anything that talks aboutt the mentioned toxin on other sites. I wonder how reliable it is, however, it is "food for thought".

    August 8, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Ken

      Here is one article I read earlier this year in a DAN magazine article:

      August 8, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • zombiesloth79

      From what I've heard and seen, in south Florida, they're safe. I've personally eaten quite a few lionfish, and know a lot of other people who do, and have never heard of anyone getting ciguatera poisoning. Granted, this is purely anecdotal evidence, but it's been working for me.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  35. Rick

    The problem with invasive species is that ever time we eradicate one, there is another species that depended on THAT species for survival. So THAT species grows out of control. So now we have another problem. These problems will keep escalating until we decide to let nature handle itself. The same applies with hunting. If we kill deer to the point that there are very few left, where do you think the bear and wolf are going to go hunting? I'll give you a hint. it walks on two legs. The cougar in California is already doing it. We have Black Bear here and when deer season is over, the very next spring, the Black Bear comes looking for food. Guess where they go? I have rebuilt my shed twice in the last year. Not one but three bears tore it up looking for food. In the insect world the same thing happens. The farmer kills the insect that feeds on the corn but by doing so they have killed the very food that another insect depends on. So THAT insect becomes the problem somewhere else. Maybe on potatoes or beans. We have interfered with nature now nature is fighting back and we are the ones who will lose. Have you ever read about pestilence or epidemics?

    August 8, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Chorizo Pig


      You completely missed the point. None of your examples are invasive species, they are all native. Native species are integrated into the environment, invasive species are not.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Aezel

      Sorry Rick but your post is nonsensical and filled with you basically making stuff up off the top of your head, but having no real idea if any of it is true from a biological standpoint.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:36 am |
      • reality check

        If we don't harvest a few deer every season, the population gets too big for the food supply. Then there are too many deer, they don't get enough to eat, they ALL get sick, plus they run into the road and cause hundreds of wrecks every year. Not to mention the people at Wal-Mart who depend on us for camo clothing, ammo, & hunting licenses so they have a job.

        August 8, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Judge Dredd

      You dumbass. Lionfish are not native to the American waters. The ecosystem was fine before it came along. So if we eliminate these fish like the Asian carp, the native species will flourish. An example is the Asian Carp. They consume up to 40% of their weight. They are also aggressive so they will do what it takes to eat. They leaves the native species without food to die and some of those fish are what we like to eat. Eating Asian Carp equals more room for native species.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Gary

      There is a difference between eradicating a native pest and an invasive species. By eradicating a native pest, you may indeed disrupt the local ecosystem, both the food chain, as well as agriculture/horticulture. However, an invasive species isn't a long-standing part of the native ecosystem and is in fact displacing and/or killing native species. Eliminating the invader will hopefully let the local balance of nature return to normal. If left alone, a new balance will emerge, but is is one that may not be very appealing to the people who depend on the status quo for either quality of life or for business purposes.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Retired Army Officer


      There are no species that "depend" on invasive species.

      The reason is because the invasive species, which are almost always predators, are not native to the ecosystems that they invade. It is the invasive species that throw the ecosystem out of balance.

      You get rid of the invasive species and the ecosystem re-balances itself.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Retired Army Officer

      Bottom line really just don't know what an 'Invasive Species' is.......

      August 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Howie

      Hello, we ARE nature. That's right, humans are actually natural species that evolved on this earth. So, when we hunt, farm, or otherwise alter existing ecology, it is NATURE that is working exactly the way it should. Ecosystems change all the time. This is not a bad thing.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:52 am |
      • Retired Army Officer

        Actually, when you really get down to it, more than any other organism......HUMANS are the most invasive land dwelling species on the planet.

        August 8, 2012 at 9:56 am |
        • AeroEng

          Yeah, but killing is certainly not of the methods of controlling that "invasive species"... We might even get into the topic of birth control here.

          August 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
      • peridot2

        That's a false analogy that humans are a part of nature. Do you believe that fish farming is natural? Fattening cattle on a feedlot? Monoculture farming? Scraping the bottom of the ocean of all life with a giant net and taking complete schools of fish is natural? If you do, there's something twisted and wrong inside your head. Business isn't natural.

        Howie, humans stopped being a part of nature when the Industrial Revolution began. Take some classes in biology and learn about it before you make false analogies you don't understand.

        August 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
        • jlv

          Yeah just like ants herding and milking aphids, or using formic acid to kill off plants that they don't want around. Wow your right no other animail does anything like people. Oh wait biology 109 talks about these things. I guess thats 109 more biology classes than you took. Pehaps you should pick up a book that doesn't have harry potter on the front or go back to school because all that stuff was in my first year biology class. It prerequiste was showing up and a reading level high enough to register for the class.

          August 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • penguins42

      Cougars in California, eh? I wouldn't mind being hunted by them, if you know what I mean.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:54 am |
      • PackingAPound

        I know what you mean, I wouldnt mind hunting a few myself. I hear they prefer young meat!

        August 8, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  36. I'm Hungry

    Anyone know how to bait specifically for a Lionfish? If you can make it easy to catch them it will be profitable and the numbers and permits will follow. Anyone heard of a Lionfish POD? They are so prolific that divers only killing several each time they dive wont make any difference. How about killing the eggs they lay? Or finding another species to eat their eggs? Then maybe we could eat that species when it becomes invasive. If you put Lionfish on the menu or start canning them I'll buy! Anyone know a really good Marine Biologist?

    August 8, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • mjoener

      It is not possible to kill the eggs before they hatch. Lionfish breed by dropping eggs into the water column, which then get fertilzed by the male. The eggs are not attached to anything. Divers are permitted to kill on sight down in the Gulf, however, as you mentioned, not enough are being taken. They are also used in the awuarium trade, however, need specific conditions as they will destroy your reef aquarium and eat anything that moves.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  37. AGeek

    There's a key flaw in the thinking here. For something to be marketed successfully and profitably, the supply chain must be reliable. Lionfish may be "everywhere", but that's quite different from having an efficient, reliably supply chain of them.

    August 8, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  38. connor

    I've often wondered why Kudzu wasnt being used as a way to feed certain livestock or even turned into a compost or planting medium...

    August 8, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Daniam724

      At least in NC I know of many farmers that use Kudzu to feed their cattle. There are also many people that make wicker furniture from from the vines. My friend's grandma makes Kudzu jelly out of the flowers.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • reality check

      Cows will only eat kudzu if there is nothing else, plus it makes their milk taste funny.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:52 am |
      • Benn

        That's only because "kudzu" is a funny word.

        August 8, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  39. Chmee

    I don't know why more people don't hunt wild pigs. There are a lot of them and they are very tasty. :-)
    They say the Asian carp taste pretty good too, unlike native carp and they're easy to catch, they jump right into your boat.
    Also, I thought I read a few years ago that somebody had found a good use for kudzu, but then I never heard any more about it and there is still a lot of it around.

    August 8, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • unclefcr

      I vaguely remember that asian carp are not really carp, but a filter feeder that eats the freshwater plankton. This makes them taste better than the bottom feeding carp but also wreaks havoc on the eco system as they consume most of the plankton.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:15 am |
      • Would You Look At That

        You are correct, the asian carp are filter feeders and beginning to take a toll on the rivers here in IL. We bow-fish for them here on the rivers, as in shoot them with a bow as they jump out of the water. I've yet to eat them, maybe they are tasty, but I don't see myself eating them anytime soon.

        August 8, 2012 at 10:38 am |
      • AeroEng

        The problem with a lot of "river-fish" is that they have too many fish bones you have to pick out before you eat them. But if you know how to prepare them and eat them, they make a tasty dish. Carps are a common dish in China.

        August 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  40. karek40

    As the population continues to rise and food becomes more scarce, I think hunger will take care of the problem. Wonder if the vine of the south is eatable, a person needs their greens.

    August 8, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • John

      Yes, I have tried Kudzu. It taste like shiiiiiit!

      August 8, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Daniam724

      I've heard some people eat the leaves in a salad, but the one that sounds better to me is that my friend's grandma makes jelly from the Kudzu flowers.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  41. robb deines

    Learn more out of Notre Dame.

    August 8, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  42. Homer Simpson


    August 8, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  43. Ben Carroll

    By this logic Native Americans should have eaten European settlers the moment they landed on foreign shores. Just saying – what's good for the goose should be good for the gander, right? This is kinda arrogant in my opinion.

    August 8, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Dave

      Shut up retard.

      August 8, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Toto

      That may oe of the worst points ever made.

      August 8, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Chmee

      I believe that some of the South American Indians did just that.

      August 8, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • asdf

      alternatively one might call it arrogant to compare the value of a human life to a fish.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:10 am |
      • Patrick

        He didn't say humans, just brits...

        August 8, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • dman0001

      with post like Ben's its safe to say there is a never ending supply of dumba$$' on these pages

      August 8, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Howie

      Some of them did, and I for one don't see a problem with that. Unfortunately for them, the European settlers were more technologically advanced and won the battle. Fortunate for us however, as the advanced society was intrinsically superior and we are the direct beneficiaries.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  44. Guest

    A researcher gave a talk to my aquarium club a few years ago about his work with lionfish. He mentioned that when they caught fish for dissection, they saved a bunch of filets in the freezer and cooked them at the end of the trip, and they were superb. In ecological terms, they're devastating - they're in the fish nurseries (especially mangrove areas) and eating the young fish that we depend on to replenish many species. Humans are good at eating animals to extinction - let's work on some of these. EAT INVASIVE SPECIES!

    August 8, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  45. Cyndy

    Didn't see lionfish on any menu in Florida during my trips there this year. Maybe Floridian chefs should make that first step.

    August 8, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • jerryab

      They are offered around here (MN). A local TV show followed the whole process–from catching to preparation and talking with diners. The people who ate lionfish liked it very much. Prep was similar to walleye and so was the taste (per the diners who tried it). So, there easily could be a large commercial market for it in the US and elsewhere.

      August 8, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  46. MEnotYOU

    But then what happens when some moron decides that the invasive species is becoming extinct? Then the whole thing shuts down and we have to create a special habitat for them

    August 8, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Jerv

      Better a special habitat for them than you.

      August 8, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • John

      The article is not advocating killing off the entire species. The organisms population would be reduced in ecosystems/ areas where it doesn't naturally belong, but not in areas where it is an endemic species.

      August 8, 2012 at 8:31 am |
      • stormrider2112 have animal X isn't supposed to be in environment Y because there's nothing to limit its population (no natural predators outside of natural habitat, natural habitat is geographically isolated, etc), I see no reason to eliminate them from the habitat they've found their way into. If we can bullshit people into buying fake Kobe beef in this country (if you're not in Japan or Macau, it's either black market beef or you just got hosed), why can't we get some foodies into coaxing the masses into eating a cheap "delicacy" like a sauteed lionfish au gratin or "free range" pork products from feral boars in the South (if people are willing to feast on Patagonian toothfish because they started calling it Chilean sea bass, we can spice up some animal names to make them sound more palatable or less disgusting).

        August 8, 2012 at 9:10 am |
        • reality check

          How about renaming liberal socialists "2-legged venison" or labeling rappers as "urban punkfish" (lord knows they are one of the most invasive inner-city species, there's more of them than there are pigeons!)

          August 8, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  47. Ken

    The Lionfish are now every where. We dove in the Dominican Republic 4 years ago and there were none. We went back 2 years ago and you would see about 10 on each dive. We are going back again this Fall and I expect to see them every where. Same thing with the Cayman Islands. Most Dive Masters will only kill them if they know the divers since some people want to see them. After we got to know our dive master and he realized we were OK with killing them he killed about 6 in one dive. They eat all the other fish and have no predators.

    August 8, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Jen

      this is true, Jamaica was really bad last year but I was in Cayman last week and with some days of diving 7 times a day I saw maybe 1 a day. apparently they have been all over it in the Cayman Islands.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:29 am |
      • Ken

        Yea, the dive operations in the Cayman's pretty much give you a talk on the boat about the Lionfish and kill them as they go if you are OK with it. They even have culling days where all the dive operations go out with the staff and kill everyone they see all day. They believe the Lionfish boom happened after some of the large hurricanes in South Florida took out home aquariums, and pet stores suppliers and they survived. Kind of like the python and boa problem in the Everglades.

        August 8, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  48. Jim Weix

    More lionfish would be harvested and sold in Florida if the state didn't require permits for divers to sell them to fish markets. Lionfish are unprotected, so why does the state throw road blocks into the process?

    August 8, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • Anna

      Because selling them to fish markets means selling them to the public. If someone gets sick, they have to know why and where the food came from. It's the same reason you have to have a permit to be a street vendor.

      August 8, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  49. Matt

    Democrats taste bad.

    August 8, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • reality check

      It's because they're full of vitriol and liberalism

      August 8, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Badly-Bent

      Better to taste bad then to leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

      August 8, 2012 at 8:11 am |
      • reality check

        Bill sure left a bad taste in Monica's mouth!

        August 8, 2012 at 10:52 am |
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