Lebanese cuisine is known for its excellent fish dishes, products of the flows of goods of our Mediterranean sea. With a coastline extending over 240 km and hosting 55% of our total population, it is no wonder that seafood has its rightful place in our cuisine and that fishing is more than a hobby in Lebanon.
In fact, with its large variety of aquatic species, our sea is a form of natural capital to our economy and a means of income for fishermen across Lebanon. So, when an aquatic predator species shows up in our sea by the masses, we get to wonder...
The lionfish species has made its way back to our Mediterranean Sea, unsettling the Lebanese. They are predators to our aquatic species, which does cause an imbalance of the marine life beneath the surface.
This is not the first time that these particular predator fish show up on the Lebanese sea in recent history. They were first spotted in 1991, and then again in 2012. However, both times they weren’t in abundance.
In 2015, they started growing in absolute mass. Fisherman Atallah Siblini stated that, at times, they would notice them in a school of mass, ranging from 30 to 50 per school.
Marine biologists have stated that, due to the intense mass of pollution on Lebanon's coastline, the increase of lionfish is already putting a strain on the fish quota of fisherman. Thus, creating an imbalance in their livelihood and in the fish population.
However, environmentalist Jina Talji asserted that, due to our luck, the lionfish happens to be very tasty and that it has the same taste as of the seabass. While fishermen have been relying on her NGO, Diaries of the Ocean, to help maintain the imbalance, they are encouraging consumers to begin eating the predatory fish.
It is worth noting that this predatory fish reproduces in a mass of 2 million fish every 4 days. If they are edible and tasty as said, we should take advantage of such abundance until a feasible solution is implemented to the marine life imbalance.
For time being, suggestions are being proposed to impeded the species from migrating to our sea. It appears that building a wall is one of them; weird as it sounds, the world trend of "raising walls" as a solution has also taken to the seas.
Meanwhile, and back to the reality of life, lionfish are edible and in abundance in our sea, and their consumption by the Lebanese population is being encouraged.