Insights from a survey of Texas Gulf Coast residents on the social factors contributing to willingness to consume and purchase lionfish.
Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) are the first marine teleost to become established in the Western Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Lionfish have been labeled a global conservation issue and pose major threats to local economies. To test whether commercial harvest of lionfish is a socially accepted management approach in Texas, we measured the components of an environmental behavior intention model with survey responses of Texas Gulf Coast residents (n = 420). Regression analyses of survey responses indicate that individuals were significantly more willing to consume lionfish if they had a high level of concern for the environmental problems posed by the invasive species and were more knowledgeable about the fish. Participation in an educational program that addresses lionfish was also found to be associated with greater willingness to consume lionfish among those who are moderately to highly concerned about the issue. The originality of this study is related to its contribution in identifying social factors that contribute to an individual's willingness to consume lionfish. Insights from this study demonstrate the attitudinal and behavioral mechanisms that can be addressed to increase acceptance of using consumption as a sustainable management strategy to combat marine fish invasions.