We’ve got a big bully on the block — the block being America’s waterways. The tyrant in this case is an alien species introduced into U.S. rivers in the 1970s, and, like kudzu on dry land, has overwhelmed the competition. The sheer size and number of Asian carp, both bighead and silver, are out-populating and out-eating our native species and taking over their habitats These fish, which can top out at over four feet and weigh up to 100 pounds, are now a serious environmental threat. Boats and boaters plying the waterways where this species have a stronghold, have been damaged and injured because of these skittish leaping invaders who now number in the millions in more and more rivers. The boat motors frighten the fish, which can leap 8 to 10 feet out of the water. And when you’re talking numbers like these, that’s some serious missile power. Check out this amazing video from BBC:
In Chicago, Illinois, back in late 2009, the Army Corps of Engineers tried poisoning the invasive species after the fish dodged an electric barrier set up to keep them out of Lake Michigan, and from there to the Great Lakes ecosystem, and eventually into the Mississippi River Basin. For the complete story go to the following link. http://ens-newswire.com/2013/01/12/chicago-fish-fence-fails-to-deter-giant-asian-carp/
Wikipedia says that The carp are now well-established in the Mississippi, including tributaries, and according to a Mississippi River blog, as of August of this year, the “Asian carp species” has been “found 20 miles farther upstream on the Mississippi River than previously observed”. http://nemwuppermiss.blogspot.com/2013/08/asian-carp-species-found-20-miles.html
But some people are fighting back. In Kentucky, a Carp Madness Tournament was sponsored by Kentucky Game and Fish and held on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, to help reduce the carp population. The tournament garnered 82,953 pounds of carp. That’s over 40 tons of pure fish but not even a drop in the bucket to what’s out there just in those two lakes alone. The following link is probably over 30 minutes long, (I didn’t time it) but, even though I’m definitely not a fisherman, I found it interesting enough to watch all the way through. In a small aside, I was also intrigued to note the Duncan team from Tennessee. My own Duncans were originally from Tennessee and both my grandfather and great-grandfather were named Ben Duncan and my uncle was Dennis Duncan. Hmm. I might have to talk to these guys.
Another way of fighting back is to turn them into food that will appeal to the American appetite. A Missouri Department of Conservation employee shows how to fillet the carp and remove the Y bones and unpalatable portion of the fish. And just one of these fish can provide a meal for an entire family.
One sure way of reducing the population boom is to make money off these reproductive and eating machines. And many states are doing just that. Besides showing how to fillet and cook the fish, Missouri, as well as its neighboring state of Kentucky, is also taking the initiative to commercialize them, and in the process, “revive a troubled commercial fishing industry”. http://www.semissourian.com/story/1976681.html
How about the problem of the poor in America? No problem. “Let Them Eat Carp”, is this clever Illinois headline back in 2011. Their plan? Grind the carp into fish sticks and give ’em to the huddled hungry masses. Two birds with one stone. Kill the fish. Feed the poor. http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/let-them-eat-carp-illinois-to-feed-pest-fish-to/article_9492759b-5968-5021-9c13-23168664f0d3.html
Illinois is also planning to tackle the problem by turning fish into byproduct. A fish plant has been in the works for more than two years in Grafton. The following is from “The Telegraph” in Grafton.
After more than two years of market research, the founders of American Heartland Fish Products discovered that fish meal, fish oil and bone meal make more lucrative, popular products. The three are daily traded commodities purchased in great quantities by domestic and worldwide feed companies.
Now the national government has gotten into the act. To cut through the political speak from the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, the Obama Administration has come up with some battle plans to shoot the little suckers outta the water. That’s maybe figuratively speaking, maybe not. That’s depending on just what “physical control tools” they’re talking about. Another plan is to poison them. I’m assuming that’s what “chemical control tools” are. They also plan on strengthening the electric barrier system in the Chicago Area Waterway System, and to throw up some kind of barrier to “physically separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin at Eagle Marsh near Fort Payne, Indiana”. The Administration is doling out over 200 million dollars to “coordinate Federal, State, and local efforts” in combating this threat.
Now, here’s the thing. Remember that little paragraph toward the beginning of this article? The one about how Illinois tried the electric barrier and the poison in Nov 2009? That was almost four years ago. And it hasn’t worked yet?
If you’re a glutton for punishment you can read the following PR political speak from the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, but view it at your own risk. However, since they’re using the same tactics which so far haven’t worked in this Carp war, it all sounds just a little bit fishy to me.