The Pterois volitans or better know as the Lionfish, is a coral reef fish in the Scorpaenidae family. Although very beautiful at sight, this fish has become a huge invasive problem in the Caribbean Sea and along the East Coast of the United States. The venomous spines that protrude from the body like a mane make the fish inedible or deter most potential predators. Lionfish reproduce very quickly and are able to quickly disperse during their larval stage for expansion of their invasive region. Lionfish in the Caribbean range from 5 to 45 cm (2 to 18 inches) length, weighing from 0.025 to 1.3 kg (0.05 to 3 lb). There are no definitive predators except for us humans........and Saona Cafe!!
Lionfish is native to subtropical and tropical regions from southern Japan and southern Korea to the east coast of Australia, Indonesia, Micronesia, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific Ocean.
The red lionfish is found off the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean Sea, and was likely first introduced off the Florida coast by the early to mid-1990s.This introduction may have occurred in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed an aquarium in southern Florida, releasing six lionfish into Biscayne Bay.
“Can you eat lionfish?” seems to be the most common question we still hear while talking to people about the lionfish invasion. The answer is a resounding. Yes, people do eat lionfish and they are delicious!
Eating lionfish is a healthier choice than most other fish commonly served in restaurants and it's have been shown to be higher in heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, lower in saturated fats.
Lionfish cannot currently be farmed and commercially cultivated, when you eat lionfish you are supporting local fishermen and divers who recognize the danger to their livelihoods, are practicing sustainable fishing methods and making smart decisions! Eating lionfish means that you are putting money back into the local economy, joining an important cause and supporting worthy people!
Obviously the most obvious question is, “Are lionfish poisonous to eat?” The answer is a very simple, “NO.” Many thousands of people have eaten lionfish and hundreds of restaurants serve lionfish on their menus in dozens of ways. Saona Cafe is the only restaurant in the Dominican Republic where you can eat Lionfish. We have not heard of one food-borne related illness having been reported as it directly relates to properly prepared lionfish. Only the spines contain the venom everyone seems well aware of and even “fresh” venom would not cause poisoning if it were ingested. There is no poison in the flesh of the lionfish meat at all.
Other questions we get are about getting lionfish fillets or where they can try lionfish. If you want to eat lionfish, a compiled list from the site (lionfish.co) of local restaurants that serve lionfish when they have them available.
The largest record lionfish measured a little over 47.7cm or 19.5 inches and was speared near Islamorada, Florida in the United States. Saona Cafe shares the record for the Dominican Republicwith one catch mesuring 45 cm or 17.7 inches!