Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eat Invasive Species

Pacific lionfish are invading the Atlantic and Caribbean, feeding on clueless prey and being shunned by predators because of their distasteful spines. So far, efforts to control them are limited to manual removal by divers. However, according to the report, "[a]t least one US company is already trying to market lionfish to restaurants as a gourmet dish."

From a free-market economist's perspective, that's probably the best way to control invasive species: create a market for them. With 6.7 billion people on the Earth, consumer demand is a powerful force. High consumption is responsible for environmental harm, so why not harness it for a useful purpose?

Take the Northern Snakehead, for example. A native of Asia, it was released into waterways in North America and is now preying upon native fishes, wiping them out from lakes and rivers. They were brought into the US because there was demand for them in Chinatown fish markets. Other Americans, however, won't eat them. And why not, indeed? Man is the most voracious predator on the planet (Woman trails closely behind). What matters is how that hunger is directed. Aspiring environmentalists, please take note.

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