The Solutions for Dealing with Asian Carp

There are those exploring other, more creative solutions to the carp problem.  Fishing tournaments have begun popping up.  Believed to be the first one of its kind, the Carp Madness Tournament on Kentucky Lake was held in March of this year. Ron Brooks, fisheries director with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife (KDFW), said, “Commercial anglers are the most effective way to control Asian carp, so we thought that we’d make a competition out of the effort.”7

The two-day tournament yielded over 40 tons of carp.  Fishermen competing for the $10,000 in prize money used nets to catch them.  Forty tons may sound like plenty of carp, but it was less than half of the 100 tons KDFW was hoping for.  The fish will be taken to a plant in Mississippi, where they will be processed and used for fish oils and pet food.7

Some fishermen are braving the carp-infested waters with their nets and are making a living catching them.  Orion Briney was one of the first commercial fishermen to become successful in the carp market.3  After watching carp invade the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, he learned to catch them himself and has been turning a good profit selling them to ethnic markets in New York and California.  

The number of Asian carp fishermen has tripled over the past few years, and although that cuts into Briney’s business, it’s always good news when there are less Asian carp in the water.  Briney says the paychecks aren’t the only thing that’s smaller these days - the fish themselves are smaller and skinnier that when he started.

U.S. Geological Survey fish biologist Duane Chapman points out the effects of carp on the environment can be seen by looking at the fish themselves. “They’re big and robust when they first arrive, but they get skinnier as time goes on because they’re continuing to feed on that [same] resource.” In essence, the carp are facing the consequences of their insatiable appetites.3

Another approach to the carp problem has come through an attempt to give the fish some good PR. A name change has been suggested to glamourize the fish in hopes it will entice diners to order.  How about some “Silverfin” or “Shanghai Bass” as your main course this evening?  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the fish have a wonderful texture and, despite being a bit on the bony side, they are relatively easy to prepare.  They are a white fish, and because they are filter feeders they don’t have the muddy taste that accompanies bottom feeders.  They are also low in fat and contaminants.