*Photos by Nicola Muirhead

The more people that know Lionfish can be eaten, the more they will be caught and killed.


This is according to Matt Strong of Groundswell who organised the Lionfish Tournament at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences along with co-founder Selange Gitschner.

More than 200 people attended BIOS for the tournament today.

 The event began at 3pm today and features reggae music, a donation only bar and Lionfish tastings.

Sixty-five fish were caught and were being cleaned and filleted.

Last year there were 32 and the year before, four.

Ms Gitschner thanked the “Lionfish slayers” for participating in the tournament.

“We have 222 people with Lionfish culling licenses in Bermuda.

“Next year, I want to see 222 people out there killing Lionfish.”

Alisan Amrhein was cleaning the fish and clipping off the poison parts with scissors.

“I’m just cutting off right at the base of where the poison is and being careful not to prick myself with it”, she said.

Ms Amrhein said she learned how to clean the fish about a week ago and ha been pricked a few times.

Environment Minister Sylvan Richards was also in attendance and stood by watching as the fish, ranging from five inches to 18 inches were cleaned.

“’I think it’s an exciting event. Attendance is up from last year.

“The number of catches is up from last year because of the beautiful weather.

“It looks to be a successful event.”

Mr Richards explained why he felt it was important for Bermudians to be aware of the dangers of Lionfish.

“It’s important to raise awareness to Bermudians about the Lionfish and the threat they pose.

“Events like this are fun but they also serve an important purpose.

“Sixty-five have been caught so that’s 65 less out there killing our fish.”

Mr Richards said government had received a $265,000 Darwin Grant with part of the money going towards Lionfish traps, which will be similar to lobster pots.

“A lot of research is going towards how to catch them”, he added.

Ms Gitschner and Mr Strong said they were pleased with the turnout.

Ms Gitschner said: "It's amazing. It's the best turnout we've had.

"This is the third year we've done it and we're pleased with the turnout.

“I think the point of this event is bringing people together.”

Mr Strong added: “It's a benign way of helping the environment. It’s the least amount of effort for the most amount of reward.

“I guess the major thing here is the more people know that it’s a delicious fish and now it's safe to eat.

“The more people that ask for it in restaurants, once they know people will pay a little more for it, hopefully they will get it in.

“We’re never going to get rid of them, but we can manage them.”