Coastal fish of Florida

Gone Coastal Logo October “Gone Coastal” column press release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Before August 2013, I had talked a lot about lionfish, but other than seeing them in tanks, I had never put my hands on one and never had one for dinner.

Lionfish is a hot topic right now. The population of this invasive, nonnative species has boomed exponentially in the past few years, and recent scientific studies indicate that this species may be negatively impacting our marine resources. Today, we are seeing them in places we’ve never seen them before, and there are no signs of them going away anytime soon.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has taken notice and is moving forward with actions to help control the population, from changing regulations to hosting a Lionfish Summit later this month (Oct. 22-24) in an effort to identify research and management gaps and brainstorm solutions to the lionfish issue. The summit will be in Cocoa Beach. Visit FWCLionfish.Eventbrite.com to learn more.

LionfishAs the public information specialist for the FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management, it is my job to reach out to the media and sometimes the public with lionfish information. I often get asked questions like, “Can you eat them? What do they taste like? How do you filet them without getting stuck by one of their venomous spines?” While I knew the answer to the questions, firsthand knowledge often trumps what you’ve read any day.

In August, I got plenty of firsthand knowledge as I attended the first ever Northeast Florida Lionfish Rodeo in Jacksonville. As the boats began to come in, I, with the help of coworker Alan Peirce, helped filet lionfish and, later, got to eat some. I admit, I was nervous as I began filleting my first one. Should I wear gloves? What if I get poked? What is the best way to get the meat off the fish?

Cleaning-LionfishThe best thing I learned that day? It’s not as scary as it looks.

Lionfish have up to 18 spines that have venom. To be clear here, the spines are not hollow like a snake’s fangs. Instead, they are more like clear to opaque toothpicks with grooves. If you were to stick yourself, the skin covering the spine would push back, releasing the venom encapsulated in grooves along the spine. The venom is not in the meat of the fish. It is also susceptible to heat, so cooking the fish neutralizes it. The stings are painful, but can be treated with hot, but not scalding, water.

When filleting a lionfish, you have quite a few options to keep your hands and fingers safe. My personal favorite was a needle-resistant glove. Using it on my left hand only to hold the fish down, I used my ungloved hand to fillet. Others chose to go gloveless and hold the spines down. Another option that I tried but didn’t quite get comfortable with is clipping the spines with scissors. It was an effective method, but we had a lot of lionfish to fillet and it felt time-consuming. For the most part, once you figure out the spine issue, filleting the fish is easy. It is just like filleting any other fish you catch. Watch Lad Akins of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) fillet one in this video.


Marine Preserve proposal for SE Florida; at FWC

2008-03-04 08:39:50 by EarthRehab

Marine Preserve proposal w/ public hearing today..
Marine Preserve from coastline to 90 ft. for SouthEast Florida proposal.
(credit to Sun Sentinel)
The federal government is now proposing to declare an extensive protected area for the two species from the coasts of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties through the Florida Keys to the U.S. islands of the Caribbean.
Designation of the 4,931-square-mile area could affect plans for beach-widening, port expansions, sewage discharges, ship anchoring and other coastal activities


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