Lorne Saul-Demers demonstrates how to safely fillet a lionfish.

There is a new appetite for lionfish on Bequia now and 102 fewer of the voracious invaders in local waters following a two-day visit by the Mayreau Regatta and Sporting Committee and Grenadines Dive lionfish team.

Their first annual lionfish tour began on Monday with a free workshop for 13 interested Bequians of all ages on safe lionfish handling at the Paget Farm community centre and ended with handing out 100 free samples of lionfish pizza at Mac’s in Port Elizabeth.

On Tuesday, they hunted lionfish with Bequia Dive Adventures staff and divers from the fishing boat Da Rock. All together, they speared 102 lionfish, then cleaned and filleted them for a free evening BBQ at which 73 lionfish meals were at Uncle Dufton’s in Paget Farm. “Most of all, what was nice was the co-operation we received from the local fishermen and others we came in contact with,” said Glenroy Adams, owner of Grenadines Dive. “The response was overwhelming,” Adams added.

“It’s always nice to meet other divers and fishermen, especially those who share our passion for controlling the lionfish invasion,” said Lorne Saul-Demers of the Mayreau Regatta and Sporting Committee.

“We are particularly grateful to Captain Shelton Morgan of the fishing boat Da Rock, his crew members, Sean Wallace and Giovanni Chamber, and both Lamont Gordon and Renrick Gordon of Dive Bequia.

The largest fish was 15.75 inches long and weighed 1.65 pounds.

Some of the lionfish were used to demonstrate safe handling and filleting to chefs on the island.

“We’re fighting the war against the lionfish invasion on many fronts,” explained Nancy Saul-Demers of the Mayreau Regatta and Sporting Committee.

“While we’re encouraging fishermen to hunt them, we’re also encouraging restaurants to serve them and encouraging both locals and visitors to eat them at home and ask for lionfish dishes at restaurants.”

Next, the lionfish tour of the Grenadines will travel to Mustique to do a workshop at 11:30 a.m. today, Wednesday, to be followed by a lionfish hunt, then a 5 p.m. lionfish BBQ at the fishing village.

On Thursday, the group will be on Canouan, where they’ll repeat the events with the Canouan Dive Center at the sailing club before returning home to Mayreau and Union Island.