Invasive Marine Life Spicing Up Menu for Seafood Lovers

Foreign species can damage local eco-systems, so one group wants to create market for them.

If you can't beat them, eat them. That's the philosophy behind a growing trend in the battle against foreign fish that experts say are taking over local waterways.

Known as invasive species, Asian Carp, European Green Crab and the venomous Lion Fish are being transported from various parts of the world and multiplying in great numbers, largely because they don't have natural predators in East Coast waters.

Marine researchers say that invasive species can damage local ecosystems by eating food meant for other animals and not having any natural enemies. These fish generally aren’t eaten by people, but one organization, The Food & Water Watch group, aims to change people’s perceptions by serving up some invasive species for dinner.

With help from Southgate Restaurant's Executive Chef Kerry Heffernan, the group organized a feast for foodies at the James Beard Foundation. Lion Fish, European Green Crab and Asian Carp were all on the menu.

Food & Watch Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter says the names of the fish are among the biggest deterrents in popularizing them. 

"We need to rename them and market them," Hauter said. "We need chefs to show us how they can be prepared."

Heffernan prepared these delectable dishes for NBC New York at the James Beard Foundation down on West 12th Street on Wednesday.

The reaction from the group was fantastic.

Every portion was perfect. These tasty intruders were full of flavor, colorfully garnished and just plain delicious.

So the next time you sit down for some seafood, invasive species of marine life may just be your main course. Mangia!

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