Commercial fishermen get around $3.00 per# for Red Snapper and it sells at the grocery for around $15.00 per pound. The fisherman/diver will not get rich on lionfish.
You have to figure the cost of harvest: increased maintence costs for your boat that is now being run much more often, increased cost for commercial insurance on your boat, commercial towing insurance, increased risk of DCS from repetitive diving, increased cost of dive equipment maintence, life insurance may go up or be canceled due to your new career, increased risk of shark encounters due to diving every possible day... Now, realize that filets don't weigh as much as a whole fish and it takes time and labor to clean hundreds of fish...every day. The dream of getting rich may very well turn into a money hole nightmare.
I could go on and on but you get the picture, it most likely will cost you more than you'll make. I told the FWC about the insurance issues for divers that are really recreational fishermen and explained that these guys could wind up in trouble because they don't know all the rules and was told that's not their problem. I asked them to remove the requirement to have an SPL commercial license to save the divers from all the insurance issues and they refused.
As it is right now, I caution weekend divers to look before you leap on the commercial license. Insurance fraud is a felony. Lawyers are expensive. Be careful!
spotted this from Chef Chris Sherrill (FB Yacht Club):
I've made a big decision today....I have been considered an authority on cooking and eating Lionfish. I enjoy the fish very much and I feel as I always have that it is an invasive, nuisance species that needs to be eradicated...
I've watched over the course of about a year the price of Lionfish increase as well as the demand for Lionfish increase. I love that it is so well received but here's the thing...
While I understand it is extremely difficult to acquire Lionfish and the divers and spearfish men are the first line of defense in this increasing threat, But I refuse to continue to serve a fish that has now reached royalty status in price....many people worked hard to create awareness and then demand for such a devilish fish and now I feel like I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to serving Lionfish...we have created a market!
Today's pricing has reached as high as $17 lb wholesale for filets...this puts your finished dish somewhere near $30 and it doesn't fit my business model.
The other issue that bothers me is that these fish (and other species) are caught or speared locally and SOLD to a supplier or distributer elsewhere to then be turned around and sold back to the restaurants in the Gulf Coast.
I get asked everyday when I'm gonna serve Lionfish again...I'm not sure of the answer...in time this invasive and nuisance fish will come down to a price the average person can afford and that I can feel comfortable charging...
In the meantime I'm turning my focus to local underutilized species and a better understanding on how awesome we have it when it comes to ultra fresh seafood!
And when Gafftop Sail catfish hit the market!!!!! You can bet I'll be tied right to it!
Someone made the point that when word gets out about the benefits and properties of eating lionfish, the increased virility, sexual stamina and the aphrodisiactic properties the prices will only climb higher! So, best to go out and harvest some now while they are still readily available with no limits!
Smart move Chriss. The lion fish fad will fade away within a year. There isn't enough lion fish available to keep up with any kind of demand with just divers going after them. The only way to catch any amount is with traps and theres no way it will be allowed because of by catch.