[Coral-List] Is or isn't Lionfish safe to eat, that is the question?

Jennifer Chapman jen at blueventures.org
Wed May 22 09:07:06 EDT 2013

Everything I have read indicates that, in short, lionfish is *at least* as
safe to eat as other reef predators (snapper, grouper, barracuda).

A PhD being undertaken by Christie Wilcox (University of Hawaii) shows that
scorpaenitoxins, found within lionfish venom, provide a false positive for
ciguatera during bioassays. Mark Hixon reported to Caribbean lionfish
co-listers in March that “only mass spectrophotometer tests can reliably
determine whether lionfish are ciguatoxic, so such definitive tests should
be encouraged before spreading perhaps false information that would hamper
lionfish control efforts”.

The study which showed a large proportion of lionfish exceeding FDA
standards for ciguatera toxin concentrations utilised this aforementioned
bioassay technique, not spectrophotometry.

In Guadeloupe, a known ciguatera area, 100 volunteers ate lionfish samples,
with none displaying symptoms of ciguatera food poisoning. It is also worth
noting that Traditional Fisheries, the world’s only commercial supplier of
lionfish to the USA, has had no cases of ciguatera poisoning from over 9
tons of lionfish sold.

Blue Ventures is working with fishing cooperatives to promote the
development of lionfish market in Belize. A fully-developed market for
lionfish meat would provide an economic incentive to increase culling
effort, whilst also providing an alternative, sustainable, fisheries target
with no seasonal closures or size limit restrictions.

*Jennifer K. Chapman*
*Country Coordinator*
*Blue Ventures*
*Belize, C.A.*

Today's Topics:

   1. Is or isn't Lionfish safe to eat, that is the question?
      (Rudy Bonn)

Message: 1
Date: Tue, 7 May 2013 10:03:28 -0700 (PDT)
From: Rudy Bonn <*rudy_bonn at yahoo.com*>
Subject: [Coral-List] Is or isn't Lionfish safe to eat, that is the
To: "*coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov*" <*coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov*>
        <*1367946208.16701.YahooMailNeo at web163001.mail.bf1.yahoo.com*>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1

As, Patterson pointed out, it would depend on the location, and I know of
many people in the Keys that actuaaly advocate eating Lionfish, in fact,
REEF in Key Largo, namely Lad Akins and another writer?has published a
lionfish recipie and cook book!? The slogan being, "Eat em and beat em!"?
Like other predators I assume lionfish eat herbivorous species,? G. toxicus
is the culprit, a benthic dinoflagellate found to be associated with
macroalgae that is fed upon by herbivorous fishes who are?then consumed at
the next trophic level, by piscivorous? fishes who are then consumed
by?larger predators?such as grouper, snappers, etc.? The toxin becomes
more?concentrated as it moves through the trophic levels up to the large
predators.? The dinoflagellate has been found in the Keys, the USVI,
Hawaiim, and elsewhere.? It produces ciguatoxin, gambieric acid, and
maitotoxin.? One reef may be infected and a kilometer away the reef may not
be infected.? As Patterson stated, local knowledge is the best source
to?help in?the decision to eat local fish.? If it is present, I would not
eat the local fish.? No reported cases in the Keys as of this date!? Hope
this helps,? Rudy

Rudy S Bonn
Marine Educator/Biologist
Miami, Florida

Message: 2
Date: Mon, 6 May 2013 22:12:37 -0700 (PDT)
From: RainbowWarriorsInternational <*southern_caribbean at yahoo.com*>
Subject: [Coral-List] Is or isn't Lionfish safe to eat, that's the
??? question
To: Caribbean Coral Reefs <*carib-coral-reefs at yahoogroups.com*>,
??? "*coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov*" <*coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov*>
??? <*1367903557.60141.YahooMailNeo at web165002.mail.bf1.yahoo.com*>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1

See: Food Safety: *
?*?? Food Safety News ??? ???
??? FDA Adds Lionfish to List of Fish That May Carry Ciguatoxins
??? Issues ciguatera guidelines for industry
??? BY NEWS DESK |? MARCH 26, 2013

When we sent this to the Aruban press we got a big backlash from the
Government and the Aruba Marine Park Foundation saying this was all
nonsense!!! It so happened there was a huge Lionfish hunt and cookout on
April 30 with more than a 1,000 people in Aruba sampling cooked Lionfish
including many a tourist.

Is this foolish or what? At heart is the fact that the "science" behind
this is being seriously questioned in Aruba.

Any comments on the actual food safety are welcome.

Milton Ponson, President
Rainbow Warriors Core Foundation
(Rainbow Warriors International)
Tel. *+297 568 5908*
PO Box 1154, Oranjestad
Aruba, Dutch Caribbean
Email: *southern_caribbean at yahoo.com*

To unite humanity in a global society dedicated to a sustainable way of life


Message: 3
Date: Tue, 7 May 2013 12:28:57 +0000
From: "Mcguire,Maia Patterson" <*mpmcg at ufl.edu*>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Is or isn't Lionfish safe to eat, that's the
??? question
To: RainbowWarriorsInternational <*southern_caribbean at yahoo.com*>,
??? "Caribbean??? Coral Reefs" <*carib-coral-reefs at yahoogroups.com*>,
??? "*coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov*" <*coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov*>
??? <*A081BF8A8C6D52428E9D480F5465AEFE843C20B0 at UFEXCH-MBXN04.ad.ufl.edu*>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

All the FDA document (and this is only a DRAFT at this point) is doing is
advising seafood processors that lionfish should be included with the other
fish known to accumulate ciguatoxin (including some species of grouper,
snapper, barracuda, etc....). Essentially what that should mean is that
local knowledge about the risk of ciguatera poisoning should be extended to
lionfish. Growing up in Bermuda, I knew to avoid eating barracuda that were
over a certain size, because the larger fish were more likely to be
ciguatoxic. Unfortunately, we do not have that anecdotal knowledge yet
about lionfish (i.e. if lionfish are harvested from an area known to be
high in ciguatoxin, is there a "safe" size of fish to eat or not?)

The FDA addition of lionfish to the list does not mean that all lionfish
will cause ciguatera poisoning (we know that's not true, as there have been
no reported cases of ciguatera poisoning from lionfish that I am aware of),
but simply is a caution, just as currently exists for all those other
species on the list. Do people avoid processing, selling or eating grouper
because grouper are on the list? In general, the answer is "no," but in
localized areas, where ciguatera poisoning is more common than in other
areas, the answer might be "yes." By the proposed addition of lionfish to
the list, the FDA is simply saying that lionfish should be addressed in the
same way as grouper, snapper, etc. from areas known to be high in
ciguatoxin occurrence.

I've heard that in the US Virgin Islands, where ciguatoxin occurrence is
high, the local commercial fishermen kill and discard lionfish that are
caught in their traps, rather than try to sell them as food fish.
Unpublished (so far) research from USVI has shown high levels of ciguatoxin
in lionfish there...

The FDA proposal should not be blown out of proportion, but more seen as a
precautionary warning that lionfish living in areas of high ciguatoxin
occurrence CAN accumulate ciguatoxin at levels that could cause human
illness, but not that all lionfish everywhere WILL accumulate these levels
of ciguatoxin--it will all be location-dependent...


Maia McGuire, PhD
Florida Sea Grant Extension Agent
150 Sawgrass Road
Bunnell, FL 32110


Educational videos at *http://www.youtube.com/user/IFASCDistrict*

*astanfo at live.uvi.edu*
*(340) 693-1242*

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