From predator to prey
Barbados took a bite out of the lionfish population yesterday.
They ate them in fillets, in penne pasta, in tasty little balls topped in sauce and they drank them in soup flavoured with saffron. The occasion was the first ever lionfish derby and cook-off at Harbour Lights.
From day break, crews of divers fanned out in the waters as they wrestled for bragging rights for catching the biggest lionfish, the smallest lionfish and for taking the most lionfish on the day.
Divers hunted the voracious predators from Maycocks in St Lucy, to just off Ragged Point in St Philip.
The first crew back was Barbados Blue, with champion lionfish killer Robert Bourne on board. Dripping with confidence, Bourne, who said his last big cull was 42, immediately threw down the gauntlet with a total haul of 44.
And at that early stage his biggest lionfish, at 700 grammes, became the fish to beat.
Both Worlds’ Allan Bradshaw’s lionfish, weighing 650 grammes and one of 32 killed near Ragged Point, in St Lucy, was the closest. That was, until Woody Coulson of the Barbados Association of Divers held up a specimen and stunned the onlookers.
Killed by Vitor Passos, it topped the scales at 1 033 grammes and easily claimed the title of largest lionfish of the day. It was killed off Maycocks, St Lucy. And then the divers on board High Tide eclipsed the grand total by dumping 54 lionfish on the counting table.
In all, more than 200 lionfish were removed from the waters around the island. And like a true seafaring community, when the “fishermen” had brought in their catches, the “cooks” or in this case, top restaurant chefs, brought out their pans, skillets and creativity for a cook-off that had eager eaters coming back “for seconds and thirds”.
The offerings ranged from a fish-like fish ball, with a sauce made by chefs from the only restaurant to feature lionfish on its menu, ‘Mojos’, to Penne with Lionfish Mediterraneo served up by the chefs at Daphne’s.
The derby was organised by the Coastal Zone Management Unit and the Centre For Resource Management and Environmental Studies.