Pick the Alien

(2023 & 2022) 14.295 € awarded

Second Phase in 2023

We are pleased to announce the continuation of the first phase Pick the Alien in the Argolic Region, with a new AEF grant (9.225 € ) to our partner iSea. During this first phase of the project our partner informed the local community and tourists about alien species through gastronomy events and discussed with local fishers about the difficulties they meet regarding alien species and their profession.  

During the next phase of the Pick The Alien project will try to build on the knowledge gathered from the past project and raise awareness of local stakeholders (professional restaurateurs, local authorities and others) empowering local restaurants to add it there menus and the local communities to consume it. Gastronomy events will take place in Hydra and Spetses. AEF is also contributing at a National campaign that will promote consumption of edible alien species and responsible consumption of seafood at a National level.

First phase project completed in 2022

The AEF funded the expansion of iSea’s 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.).