Whole Foods Market ® Takes a bite out of lionfish

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Florida Stores First Region to Offer New “Spearited” Catch of the Day

FLORIDA (May 24, 2016) – A hub for certified sustainable seafood, Whole Foods Market® is excited to offer shoppers a fresh and delicious new seafood option – lionfish. The fish is a nonnative, invasive species that has a potential negative impact on indigenous species and habitat. By reducing the number of lionfish in the wild, Whole Foods Market® will help to improve the serious environmental threat they cause.

As a coastal region relying heavily on seafood as a food source, all 26 Whole Foods Market® stores in Florida are thrilled to announce their involvement as part of the solution to protecting the surrounding waterways and its inhabitants – all while providing an alternative, affordable and delicious seafood option.

With the first sighting in Florida in 1985, lionfish continue to expand at astonishing speeds and are harming native coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. With capabilities of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering environments, the invasive species with a flowing mane of venomous spines is considered a predator in the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea.

Lionfish is versatile. From ceviche to a simple pan sauté, its white, buttery meat lends itself to any number of different recipes. With hopes of creating a demand for fishermen to scale their operations and catch more lionfish, Whole Foods Market® hopes to move the seafood industry toward greater sustainability, creating healthier ecosystems and reversing trends in overfishing and bycatch.

The thoroughly trained team members of Whole Foods Market® will receive the lionfish in-store and execute all necessary preparations for shoppers including the removal of the venomous spines. Once caught and placed on ice, the lionfish physically cannot release venom from the gland, ensuring safe consumption for shoppers. Whole lionfish is available at an affordable $9.99 per pound, with a special introductory price of $8.99 per pound from Wednesday, May 25th to Tuesday, May 31st. Store team members can also assist in menu planning and recipe tips.

The Whole Foods Market seafood department is held to the highest standards, requiring that all seafood offered is either certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, or rated green or yellow by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Even if a species is abundant – which is clearly the case for lionfish – the rating still remains important to ensure that fisheries and catch methods for lionfish aren’t harming other species in the process. “In an effort to educate the public on the importance of lionfish removal, promotions such as this will encourage continued involvement in proactively and successfully removing lionfish from coastal waters,” says David Ventura, Whole Foods Market® Seafood Coordinator for the Florida region.