You can hunt them indiscriminately without thinking of sustainability.
Invasive species are a problem worldwide because they are harmful to the local ecosystem they are introduced to — they are alien to their new habitat, and destroy it by consuming local species, or preventing them from breeding by occupying common breeding grounds.
Eating invasive species is a great way to consume meat while doing something positive for the environment — and the best part is, you can do it without having to think about overfishing or any semblance of effort towards sustainability. In fact, if you can get hunt them to the point of extinction (as invasive species here in North America, not their native habitat), all the better for everyone — and you’ll end up with happy tongues and full bellies.
Check out this list of invasive species found all over the country, Survivors. Good hunting.
ASIAN SHORE CRAB
Blue Crabs, Rock Crabs, and Lobsters are all crustaceans that are native to the Northeastern coast of the United States — the Asian Shore Crab? NOPE.
But they’ve arrived, and they’re threatening the populations of their native cousins. Asian Shore Crabs are resilient and they’re breeding in rapid numbers — thriving from North Carolina up to Maine — which makes them threatening to local ecosystems.
These little invaders also happen to be bite-sized, making them the perfect shellfish snack. You can actually fry them up like popcorn. Just heat up some olive oil in a large skillet and submerge the Asian Shore Crabs until they turn a beautiful, bright orange. New Haven, Connecticut sushi restaurant Miya’s does just that, serving these crabs as a crunchy appetizer.
The Snakehead Fish is native to Asia and Africa, but they’ve been appearing in the waterways of Maryland and Florida for over a decade now. The long, eel-like fish is big enough to hunt fish like Bass and Perch. Whenever and wherever they appear, they run the show.
In 2011, the Oyster Recovery Partnership hosted a fundraiser in which nine well-known chefs competed in cooking up snakeheads and serving their filets on dressed-up platters.
Snakeheads are not unusual to consume. They’re often eaten in Thailand and Vietnam, among other places. But they’re still not a common menu item in the U.S., despite efforts to encourage fishermen to catch and market them as food. It’s an ugly fish, but it actually tastes much better than it looks.
ASIAN TIGER SHRIMP
Also known as “giant cannibal shrimp,” the Asian Tiger Shrimp is native to Asian and Australian waters, where they can grow up to 13 inches long.
Asian Tiger Shrimp were introduced to the United States when 2,000 of them were accidentally released from an aquaculture facility in South Carolina.
If you like eating their smaller relatives, you’ll likely love these massive versions, which are considerably meatier.
Lionfish are beautiful, exotic-looking creatures. Anyone who has gone Scuba diving in recent years has likely marveled at their striking maroon and white stripes and long, spiny fins.
Unfortunately, they also boast hearty appetites that have severely harmed fish populations all across the Atlantic. Not to mention the fact that their prickly spines produce painful toxins. The Lionfish might look pretty, but things turn ugly when they’re found where they don’t belong.
Humans with hearty appetites will appreciate the fact that Lionfish are high in Omega 3 fatty acids (which help lower the risk of heart disease) and low in saturated fat. The flaky white fish is similar to Halibut. One of the more popular methods for serving Lionfish is in ceviche, fried, or raw.
Wild Boars have roamed North America ever since Spanish explorers brought them over in the 1500s as domesticated animals. Many of those original Boars broke free and ultimately became the feral, ferocious, furry pigs we know today.
Not only are Wild Boars harmful to the crops they devour, but they’re also dangerous to humans. Wild Boars are known to be aggressive and charge at people, and they can do serious damage with their sharp tusks and teeth.
In terms of flavor, Wild Boar is considerably leaner and gamier than the pork we’re used to.
The Blue Catfish has become pervasive in the Chesapeake Bay. There they’ve expanded into every major tributary, eating native fish along the way.
Their tolerance for varying habitats is extremely high. So, despite being freshwater fish, they can handle and even thrive in brackish or salty waters as well.
In 2015, the Blue Catfish was awarded the green seafood recommendation. That means if you’re trying to decide on a fish to purchase at the supermarket, the most eco-friendly decision is probably the Chesapeake Bay Blue Catfish. The fish is also cheap and plentiful, so eat up!
The Rusty Crayfish is native to the Ohio River basin. But it has also made its way to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and many other states, where it’s wreaking havoc on local ecosystems. They’re typically harvested for use as fishing bait, and likely spread by that usage as well.
Crayfish (also known in the south as Crawdads) look like a little Lobster. And they taste similar, too! They’re also significantly cheaper, and you’ll be doing the environment a favor when you eat the Rusty Crayfish.