Pick the Alien

€ 5070 awarded

Project Status: Completed in 2022

The AEF funded the expansion of iSea’s 2022 Pick the Alien program to the Argolic Gulf with co-funding from the Blue Marine Foundation. The programme aims to promote the consumption of edible invasive species such as the lionfish and long-spined sea urchin, both as a means to control the newcomers’ populations, and to take pressure off threatened native species.

The programme travelled specifically to Hydra, Spetses and recently to Nafplio. Each event involved a public tasting of edible marine alien species, and informational seminars for local fishers. In addition, local fishers and restaurateurs were interviewed to assess the main barriers to the widespread targeting and consumption of these species.

All public tasting events held were highly successful, with attendance surpassing initial expectations and positive written comments by attendees. The events were organised in collaboration with the local authorities and were planned to coincide with local celebrations: the Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta (SCYR) in Spetses, and the Miaoulia festival in Hydra. In Nafplio the events took place during the “Peloponnese Food Stories | Stories of Flavours, People, Culture” event in Tolo attracting more than 120 participants.

People enjoyed the recipe and some restaurants even considered to add some edible alien species to their menu. After the events, fishers found it a good idea to keep some of these species, especially the lionfish and spinefoots as they are in demand in the fish market. Also iSea created eBooks with some recipes to cook these species.

By the end of the year, iSea will release an interim analysis of the key obstacles that must be overcome for alien species to find their way into fish markets and restaurant menus. This will provide a roadmap for more targeted actions to address supply chain issues (e.g. connecting fishers with appropriate wholesalers, providing chefs/restaurateurs with training, etc.).