1. Lionfish carry a deadly poison in their spines.
Lionfish are not poisonous, they are venomous. The difference between poison and venom is the method of delivery. Venom must be injected into the bloodstream to cause injury, such as through a sharp spine or fang, but is harmless if drunk or eaten. Poison has to be ingested or absorbed to be harmful; lionfish carry no poison in the edible meat of the fish.
The venom found in the needle-sharp dorsal, pelvic and anal fins of a lionfish is NOT deadly to an otherwise healthy human being, though envenomation WILL cause an immense amount of localized pain, swelling and, in some instances, blistering and infection if not treated properly. It is possible for some people to have an allergic reaction to the venom.
Lionfish fact: Lionfish venom is a protein-based, neuromuscular toxin that can be denatured when cooked over 350 degrees for just a short period of time. Heat breaks the proteins down, which is why soaking the affected area in very hot water is also an effective first aid treatment for lionfish stings.
Note, however, cooking lionfish is NOT required. They are NOT poisonous to eat and if you did consume the venom from the spines, nothing is likely to happen. (I would not try this)
2. Lionfish is poisonous or dangerous to eat.
Eating Lionfish Won’t Kill You Like Fugu (Puffer fish)Healthy lionfish are NOT poisonous or dangerous to eat. Unlike the puffer fish (fugu) death is NOT likely from eating a lionfish that has been improperly butchered or prepared. Lionfish meat contains no poisonous toxins and is no different than grouper, snapper, wahoo, triggerfish, etc. Of course, the lionfish should be handled correctly to prevent injury from the lionfish’s many venomous spines until they can be removed or the venom rendered inert.
Lionfish Fact: Fresh lionfish can be eaten raw, in ceviche (cooked in citric acid) or cooked any number of ways.
: There are areas in the eastern islands of the Caribbean Sea that are considered “hot spots” for ciguatera fish poisoning and over 400 different fish species are known to carry ciguatoxin that can cause ciguatera. It has been documented through scientific study that lionfish can carry the ciguatera toxin, too, thus making them potentially unsafe to eat IN THOSE SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHIC AREAS of concern. It should be noted that there is not a single documented or suspected case in which a person has contracted ciguatera from eating lionfish. If you are vacationing on an island where ciguatera is a known risk, you are probably already aware of this danger.
Ever wondered what lionfish tastes like? They’re DELICIOUS!
3. Lionfish are too small and too bony to eat.
Lionfish can grow to sizes beyond 19 inches or 3 pounds and come in all sizes in between; they aren’t really boney at all. If you do bring up a fish that’s just a bit too small to serve as a whole fillet you can put them into a ceviche, carpaccio, eat them raw (sashimi or sushi) or fry up some fish nuggets; there are plenty of things you can do with small fillets!
Of course, if the DEAD lionfish is not worth the hassle of handling or preparing, you can always leave the fish floating or sinking to the bottom. Numerous fish will find them and eat them and it can be fun to watch from a distance!
REMEMBER: NEVER NEVER NEVER feed a lionfish to a predator
from the end of your spear.
Those that do so are encouraging dangerous behavior by training potentially aggressive predators to focus on the point of a spear that is usually only about 3 feet long. You can seriously injure unsuspecting hunters that dive in the area long after this behavior is introduced.
Stay safe and happy lion fish killing!!