May 24--Whole Foods is set to sell fresh lionfish in seafood departments, hoping to take a bite out of the non-native, invasive species hurting Florida's offshore reefs.
Starting Wednesday, 26 Florida Whole Foods stores will begin selling the delicate white fish for $8.99 a pound through May 31. The fish will be priced at $9.99 per pound starting June 1.
The economically-priced fish, which has 18 venomous spines, is safe to consume once the spines have been removed. The flesh is not poisonous. The grocer's seafood staff received special training to properly handle the fish, according to the release.
"Once caught and placed on ice, the lionfish physically cannot release venom from the gland, ensuring safe consumption for shoppers," says the release.
The red, brown and white striped lionfish is similar to halibut or grouper and can be prepared like any other fish.
Lionfish, and other non-native exotic species such as oscars and clown knifefish, can hasten extinction of native marine life and habitat in Atlantic coastal waters.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has no recreational or commercial bag limit on catching lionfish and encourages removal in waterways by spearing, netting or hooking.
Lionfish were first reported off Dania Beach in 1985, according to the FWC.
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