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Lionfish invading the Mediterranean

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SubSub

SubSub

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Aug 26, 2015
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I did not even not lionfish existed in the Med. and was quite surprised to find this guy. Wanted to kill him, but didn't know much of how poisonous they are or how to get it off the spear once shot, so I let him live this once to find out more.

Read a bit more once back in the house, and last these critters come from the Red sea and last year apparently they had spread all around Crete, and to this year they obviously spread north to where I'm at on Symi (close to Rhodes).

Has anyone else seen lionfish in the Med.? Any tips on how to kill them without risk? I'm kind of curious of how they taste too... so some cooking tips would come in handy! ;)


Problem uploading pics via the webversion of the forum.. I'll see if I can make it work via Tapatalk!
 
SubSub

SubSub

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Aug 26, 2015
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...seemed to work better vis Tapa, so here's a few pics of the little bastard.

76138daa8949268b7608bd6a9666d118.jpg

0b10aebefdd1c6fafcee9f6f259baefa.jpg
1703a2adce7c6e66d7486bdc7f626217.jpg
 
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japppo

japppo

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Jan 3, 2015
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Wow, in Crete? I've read about them around the Suez in Egypt and Israel.

I visited Mexico this summer and took out two of them with my self made pole spear. I've read that the sting is extremely painful, not deadly, unless you lose your ability to swim because of the pain.

The poison is only in the fins, so strong scissors can be used to cut off the head to kill it or use some other way to kill the fish. Then cut off all the fins. Trying to knife it in the head in ikejime style can be risky in my opinion.

I used a paralyzer tip without prongs so it's easy get out of the spear. They should taste fine, I'd guess similar to freshwater perch, which is very good. I left my catch to the barracudas to teach them the taste...

I hit this one in the head so I left it on the spear for safer handling. Sorry about the gross images:
G0067646
G0067675
G0067688


I'll make a full video on youtube about this flesh fest later. Channel link:
http://www.youtube.com/salaseivastajat/
 
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SubSub

SubSub

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Wow, in Crete? I've read about them around the Suez in Egypt and Israel.

Well now north of Crete. I'm on Symi, right between Rhodos and Kos.

Thanks for pics and tips. I only have the gun + spear with flipper so it's a little more tricky to get it out.

This one was the first I've ever seen, so I doubt I'll go on a dedicated lionfish hunt anytime soon, but I'd like to kill it to keep the numbers down never the less
 
C

cdavis

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Jan 21, 2003
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Lion fish are delicious, but small. Broils great, also frys, but quickly. If I see one big enough, he's in the boat, right quick. Cutting the fins (including the poison tips) is easy with heavy duty scissors. They are slow, stupid about divers, and not strong, so spearing them is easy, no issues controling the fish as you get it off the spear. Just be wary of the spines.

Eat well!
 
SubSub

SubSub

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Is it just the tip of the spines that are poisonous?
 
C

cdavis

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Yes, only dangerous if you get stuck. Given how slow and weak they are, you would have to be pretty careless to get stuck. Mine go straight from the spear into a 5 gallon bucket. Spine removal comes later.
 
U

unal.murad

New Member
Aug 26, 2017
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I also saw 3 of them in Adrasan bay in Antalya Turkey. I was shocked. I guess we will see more next years.

SM-N910C cihazımdan Tapatalk kullanılarak gönderildi
 
Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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This thread may be old, but the topic of lionfish in the Mediterranean Sea certainly isn't.

I live on Crete and recently upgraded from tickling octos to a speargun and then immediately downgraded to a home-made polespear after seeing lionfish everywhere. I mean really everywhere!
The bigger ones I've taken where ~25cm in size. This clearly indicates that no one is targeting them. I even saw some right in front of a local fish-tavern!

I am now trying to get the locals to start eating them, but this process is 'slowly-slowly' at best. There are multiple organisations pushing here for lionfish consumption, but for them too it's a struggle. Perhaps we should be targeting the hipster burger joints in Chania instead of the local fish taverns. :)

If you come to Greece for vacation this summer, don't order Rofos, please. Ask for Leontopsaro. And if they don't have it settle for some salad and bread.

For people who want to join the fight here on Crete, even if only while on holiday, feel free to send me a message. I have enough material for some more spears and can show you how to handle the fish.

In short on how to handle lionfish:
- Don't use a speargun. If you're lucky it will be a stone-shot, but even then the fish will rotate on the shaft or line while you try to manage the spines. A good way to get hurt.
Instead use a 3-prong polespear. If you really have to use a gun, use a trident speartip. This way you can keep the fish steady in a safe way while you cut the spines.
- For cutting the spines I use regular scissors that I tightened up a bit. This seems to be good enough. Cut the spines first, then brain the fish. This might sound cruel, but it's safer and I noticed the fish doesn't fight when cutting the spines, so I guess for them it's like nails or hair for us.
I just let the spines sink to the bottom. For what I could find is that the venom denatures/washes away in about four hours. Correct me if I'm wrong here.
- Not all spines have venom, but unless you need the non-venomous pectoral spines for a restaurant presentation I would advice to just cut everything.

The spear I use is a 1-meter aluminium tube with three sharpened 25cm iron spines epoxied in the front, and a loop of exercise-rubber attached to the back.
 
Andrew the fish

Andrew the fish

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Oct 17, 2010
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I remember eating Lion fish taco's on Roatan (Honduras). Lionfish is an excellent eating. I can go to Crete again and help you poor Creteans cleaning the waters. Is it still free-for-all-no licence-needed spearfishing there? Where exactly on Crete are you, Leander? Which tavern? The thing I remember about Crete - it is big. People from one part of Crete hardly know names of villages on its other end.
 
Leander

Leander

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Crete is still pretty much the Euro version of the wild-west. Spearfishing is license-free, however the rules still apply: 5kg limit or one fish over 5kg, max. one grouper, no fishing at night, mandatory float, no use of lights and no fishing during May (which I'm completely going to ignore when it comes to lionfish). Most of these rules are completely ignored by the locals btw.

I'm a long-time traveller who decided Crete is a better place to call home than the cold, rainy and business-infested Netherlands. Crete's anarchistic way of life suited me better. I live in the middle of the olive fields south of Tymbaki in a friend's caravan (or under a tarp during the warm months). No one really minds here, it's quite normal.

I've seen lionfish all around the island this year. The whole south-coast at least. And yes, it's *very* good eating. Which, by the way, is also a concern of mine and I wonder how they handle this in the Caribbean: If it's too tasty, people pay well for it, and it becomes your source of income, would you still kill the last fish if you ever manage to get to that?

The tavern-situation I saw in both Lendas and Matala, two highly touristic places which attract hippies, free spirits and travellers: the kind of people of who are interested in anything that is eco/green/fair/sustainable. So when in the masses arrive in May I have my targets. The locals think more along the way of selling what they've always sold: grouper, porgy, parrot, octopus.. So I forgive them for not even knowing that this stationary fish on their doorstep is so delicious.
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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<deleted link to map>

Edit: Offgrid internet didn't allow me to actually browse the map I shared here. It appears not to be updated since its creation. The map shows as if there are no lionfish at all, while in reality there are in every nook and cranny that gives some shelter from current or waves.
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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I met some people yesterday as I walked to my dive spot. Promised them lionfish if I would find some. The first 'cave' was a jackpot. Eight lionfish ranging from 20 to 28cm.
There were some people line&hook fishing with quite expensive and professional looking gear. They gave up after seeing me struggle to get all the fish on the stringer. Had to leave the last one on the spear for my way back. :)

Talks with a local conservation group revealed that all the spearfishing rules still apply to the lionfish. So you can't take more than 5kg, no use of lights, no spearing them during May and no selling or even donating them to the tavernas. The lionfish find themselves protected by laws that were meant to save the stocks of grouper and other endangered species. Nice. >.>

Though most of these rules aren't really enforced (perhaps more so during tourist season?) it means that trying to get the fish on the menu is a waste of time as there will be null incentive to people to get in the water and hunt them. Lifting the ban on recreational sale for this fish would fix the problem in one season, especially in times of a struggling economy.
But apparently the government is too busy arguing with neighbouring countries, and won't push any time or resources towards environmental issues. And the EU is panicking about 'OMG poisonous fish!!1!' and creates more obstacles than solutions.
 
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Andrew the fish

Andrew the fish

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Leander, if I didn't have to work, I'd be on Crete. My lady is ready to scream every time I mention Crete in conversation, because at some point like a year ago I seriously thought about selling my poor man flat in Vancouver for a small poor man's mansion on Crete.
 
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Leander

Leander

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During the winter I removed all the lionfish from the local area. I hit them about every week until there was only the incidental long-ditance trekking backpacker lionfish now and then.

Then corona. Lockdown included a ban on swimming and fishing.

And then May, when spearfishing is forbidden in Greece...

So now in June I can finally hunt for my food outside the supermarket again. Well, I tell you: lionfish -everywhere-!
The coast-guard paid me a routine visit and when I showed them a stringer so full of lionfish that there just wasn't space for one more they were shocked. He knew about the lionfish, but had no idea how bad the situation has become.

If an area completely repopulates in just two months, then we're really out of luck over here. The famous fresh fish tavernas will soon have to import their groupers from Thailand...
 
Leander

Leander

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To stimulate others to hunt for lionfish I want to create a simple extremely-low-cost-but-effective kit. Any ideas on this?

  • small ±1m polespear, 2-3 piece so it fits in any backpack.
  • scissors, EMT or other
  • stringer
  • webbing 'belt' for stringer and scissors
  • 'how to + safety' print
  • mini-float?
  • gloves?
Most would be DIY, the rest sourced from AliExpress, in order to keep the price as low as possible. The DIY spear I use cost me 7 euros to make, scissors can be found for 2 euros, stringer could be a simple bamboo spike...

In comparison a Mako lionfish spear and a ZooKeeper are about $150 together and definitely don't fit in a bag.
 
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Leander

Leander

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And again. Visited a small beach near Kali Limenes. A local told me that there was a big lionfish right in the bay. There were three, well within range for normal swimmers. And just around the corner I filled the rest of my stringer. Came out the water with 14 or 15, caught in maybe just 150m of shoreline. Also started seeing lionfish in very shallow water, sometimes less than two meters.

There was so much interest in my catch when I came out of the water. Some locals knew about it, apparently the knowledge is spreading, slowly; but others said the usual question of "you can eat it???”, so I split the full catch and everyone on the beach will be eating lionfish tonight. I'll just have some vegetarian pasta with tomato sauce, there will be more lionfish tomorrow anyway.
 
Leander

Leander

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A new record. ☹️ There's a small wreck of something like a trawler or a tugboat nearby. A few months ago it was teeming with life. Parrotfish, spinefoots, grouper... But a few days ago I saw only 3-4 fat lionfish. The sea was a washing machine that day and lionfish don't like that, so today I tested my rule of 'when you see 1, there are 10'. I caught all but two, a total of 18 (!) fish on the stringer! In an area of 10x10 metres.

Good thing of today is that the fish tavern bought the big ones. For a weak kiloprice, but heh, was planning to start donating fish for free, so I'm happy. All my friend's freezers are already full and I eat this fish so much that I'm starting to dislike it, so hopefully he likes them and places them on the menu, then I can step up the cleaning of the area.

Hehe, this thread is really becoming my lionfish-journal.
 
C

cdavis

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Jan 21, 2003
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Good for you!!

I should kill every one I see, but its more trouble than its worth.

I eat'em when I can find them big enough, delicious. Not many big enough to eat in the Bahamas above 60 ft.
 
Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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Good for you!!

I should kill every one I see, but its more trouble than its worth.

I eat'em when I can find them big enough, delicious. Not many big enough to eat in the Bahamas above 60 ft.
Perhaps just spear them with a flopperless spear or something like that? I do notice that lionfish look for a new home after they got attacked. The old spot never gets reused. So just killing them and leaving them for the other animals to scavenge on could work.
 
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