Lionfish awareness goes to districts

The Department of Environment is
taking lionfish awareness on the road, with awareness evenings planned
throughout Grand Cayman.

There will be a presentation every
Saturday evening at 6.30pm up to the end of June, with the department urging
anyone who swims, dives, snorkels, fishes or just has an interest in the
well-being of Cayman’s reefs to attend the sessions.

“The talks are meant to give the
public easier access to information on lionfish in Cayman. The information
covered will include; how lionfish got here; why they are so dangerous; what
research has been done on them and what DoE is doing about it,” said Bradley
Johnson, a research officer with the Department of Environment.

According to Mr. Johnson, the talks
will be about an hour long and he plans to have a live lionfish at the meetings
to show people what to look out for.

“They make it much easier to relate
to seeing them alive instead of in a photo or video,” he said.

The lionfish is an invasive species
that poses a great threat to local species. It is a voracious predator, feeding
on anything it can swallow and reaches maturity much more quickly than
competing species. The fish also has venomous dorsal spines that can deliver a
very painful sting if the fish is handled.

According to Mr. Johnson, lionfish
are still being found all over Cayman and numbers are not decreasing in spite
of vigorous control measures.

“Between DoE and our licensed
cullers we’ve removed over 1,500 fish since January 2009 from all three
Islands. We have over 350 people now licensed to remove lionfish for us and I’m
hoping to increase that number through these talks. The more people we have
aware and licensed the more effective our control programme will be,” he said.

According to Mr. Johnson, the
department does not expect these measures to eradicate lionfish from Cayman’s
waters.

“The goal of our control programme
is to remove as many lionfish as possible. This will serve two purposes: first,
the more lionfish we remove the fewer of our local species of fish will be
eaten by them; and second, this will give more time for fish to adapt to their
presence and learn to eat them or avoid them,” he said.

The meetings will take place on 15
May at the East End Civic Centre, 22 May at Savannah Primary School, 29 May at
Elmslie Memorial Church Hall in George Town, 5 June at Bodden Town Primary
School, 19 June at South Sound Community Centre and 26 June at John A. Cumber
School in West Bay.

For more information on the
programme, contact 949-8469.

Corn-dusted lionfish BLT wrap

4
lionfish fillets, 6-8ounces each, split lengthwise

3 eggs,
lightly beaten with a ½ cup whole milk

Corndust

8 apple-smoked bacon slices,
cooked crispy, fat reserved

½ cupvegetable oil

2 ripe plum tomatoes, split
lengthwise and sliced ¼in thick

1 red onion, julienned

1 head of romaine, cleaned, dried
and roughly chopped

4 10-inch flour tortilla wraps,
or any wrap of your choice

1lb baby spinach, trimmed, washed
and dried

In a sauté pan, heat the vegetable
oil and bacon fat over moderate heat. 
Dry the fillets with paper towels, dip them in the egg/milk mixture and
then coat with the corn dust.  Sauté
until golden brown, set aside on paper towels.

To make the wraps, warm the
tortillas on a grill, over an open flame or in the microwave.  On the lower third of the tortilla, spread
the chipotle mayonnaise, (as much as you desire), place two fillets on the
mayonnaise, top with two slices of bacon, the tomatoes, lettuce and wrap
tightly.

In a bowl, lightly toss the spinach
with the vinaigrette, season to taste with salt and black pepper.

To plate, place the spinach salad
in the centre of the plate, cut each wrap on a bias and lean the two pieces on
the salad.  Enjoy!

Sherry honey lime vinaigrette

4ozsherry vinegar

Juice of 3 limes

Zest of 1 lime

2ozhoney

2ozcanola oil

1tspbroasted shallots,
minced

To taste, salt &fresh
ground black pepper

Chipotle Mayonnaise

3 ozfresh lime juice

7ounce canchipotle
chillies in adobo

1 quartmayonnaise

2 ½ tspkosher salt

1tspfresh ground black
pepper

To make the chipotle mayonnaise,
blend the lime juice and chipotles in a blender.  In a bowl, whisk the chipotle puree into remaining
ingredients, chill for at least one day so that the flavours can develop.

Corn
Dust

1cup cornmeal

1 tspcumin

½ tspchili powder

1 tspkosher salt

LOCALLionfishSTORY

The invasive lionfish in Cayman waters.
Photo: File
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