Farm to Fort lunch blog 3
Eat’m to beat’em! Enjoying a meal while doing nature a favor.
Red snapper, mahi mahi, yellow fin tuna, wahoo, pike fish… all delicious fish species that can be caught of the coast of Curacao and are common dishes on the menu of local restaurants. “Wouldn’t it be nice to serve something different”, we thought and came up with the idea to introduce to you ‘the new kid on the coral’… lionfish!
Our visit to a beach was not one of our regular ‘farm visits’. It is needless to say our chefs would rather not ‘be diving’… so we contacted Brigitte and her team at B-Diving, who are always up for an underwater challenge.
Located at Cas Abao beach, B-Diving is a professional dive school, offering different dive excursions on the reefs of Cas Abao and surrounding reefs. As tourism decreased – or stopped rather – due to the Covid-19 epidemic, we thought it would be a great idea to support their business by asking them to catch lionfish for our upcoming ‘Farm to Fort menu’ and a new lunch dish, ‘Fish and tortilla chips’.
The lion on the reef
Brigitte Achterberg, the owner of B-Diving informed us that around October 2009 the first lionfish where spotted around the island. “Although they gorgeous fish to see because of their ‘feathers’, we don’t like to see too many of them as they are a danger to our reefs. The lionfish is not native to the Caribbean reefs/waters. It is an invasive species and has no natural predators, except for the big groupers which are practically extinct because of overfishing.”
“Lionfish reproduce very quickly; a female lionfish can lay up to 2 million eggs per year… and on top of this they have a big appetite and eat at least half their own body weight per day, which results in rapid growth and maturation. This disturbs the natural circle for other species and dramatically reduces the reproduction/juveniles of other species on the reefs” Brigitte explains.
To catch a lionfish divers must descent to any depth between the surface and 130ft/40 meters deep (max diving depth for recreational diving and only allowed when certified as deep diver). The deepest confirmed sighting of a lionfish was at 1,000 ft/305 meters in the Bahama’s. The diver will carry a ‘Pole Speer’ and what they call a ‘Zookeeper’, to shoot, catch and keep the fish ‘safely’. Safely for the divers that is… as being stung by a lionfish is a very painful experience.
Fun Fact: lionfish are probably the healthiest fish you can eat. They have a higher concentration of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids, scoring above snapper and grouper. In addition, they are healthier than tuna, mahi mahi and wahoo because of their low levels of metals like mercury and lead.
all pictures by B-Diving & watersports Curacao