Unless you’re a scuba fisherman, chances are you will never encounter the lionfish. It’s an invasive species from the Indian Ocean and the adjacent southern Pacific. Probably because it was brought in as an aquarium fish that got dumped into the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico, it preys on many of the most important commercial fish, notably snappers and groupers.
Not only does it spread rapidly to consume other fish that we would prefer for ourselves, but the lionfish is covered with venomous spines that can not only be painful but perhaps cause serious injury. On the other hand, it’s a beautiful fish to look at.
All that said, you might have the opportunity to eat lionfish. It is worthwhile, with a firm, white flesh that tastes great. It’s also a species that can be fished almost without limit, because of its notoriety. The chef who has done most to encourage the eating of liondish is Tenney Flynn, the co-owner of GWFins, which I would say is the best seafood restaurant in New Orleans. A fan of scuba, Tenney likes to go spearfishing for lionfish. He also knows how to get rid of the spines, and how to cut the fish to get the best parts. GWFins doesn’t serve lionfish often, but it does turn up there for your amusement. It really is well worth eating.