Lionfish: Is It Safe to Eat?

Figure 1. Eating large, predatory fish harvested from warmer, tropical waters puts consumers at risk for ciguatoxic fish poisoning, and food safety officials in the United States and Caribbean caution against it. The voracious appetite and diverse eating habits of the lionfish suggest it is also a top-order predator species prone to accumulation of ciguatoxins. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Lionfish is not a traditional or likely seafood selection, but growing interest in response to the invasive and increasing abundance has stirred recreational and commercial interest. This prolific, invasive fish is threatening reefs and coastal fisheries in ocean waters throughout the Caribbean Seas and neighboring regions, and eating lionfish is being encouraged as one of the best options to mitigate the its harmful impact. This 4-page fact sheet discusses the risks in handling and consuming lionfish, and offers recommendations for avoiding risk, for both recreational and commercial harvesters. Written by Steve Otwell, and published by Florida Sea Grant, April 2015.