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012511 - Invasive Carp Now on the Menu

from FIS - Fish Information & Services

Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 01:00 (GMT + 9)

Chef Jimmy Wade is planning an "invasivore" dinner menu next month including some invasive carp species from the Illinois River. 

"If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em" is the mantra of an up-and-coming group of environmentally conscious eaters being referred to as "invasivores." Wade hopes to attract such consumers.

"Lots of people will try anything once," he said. 

But fish biologists and environmental organisations caution that eating one’s way to eradicating an invasive species is not the best way to go, reports AP.

Even though eating carp could help slow its rapid march toward the Great Lakes, critics claim creating a taste for the fish in the US could lead to an interest in raising them.

Marine ecosystems beyond the Great Lakes could be threatened if market demand pushed biologists to run a sustainable carp fishery, foresaw Duane Chapman, a fish biologist with the US Geological Survey and one of the country’s chief Asian carp experts.

"It only takes one guy to move the fish to a new place because he likes it. A fisherman with a bait bucket intentionally stocking them in a reservoir would be a very bad thing," he said.

"Eating them is not going to have a substantial impact on the population," Chapman added. "It only takes one mating pair (of Asian carp) to breach the Great Lakes."

The Obama Administration's "2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework," a USD 47 million programme to keep the carp from moving into the Great Lakes, includes a measure to enlarge the commercial Asian carp export market to China, where the fish is a delicacy.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced a USD 2 million scheme in July 2010 to strengthen commercial fishing for the species along the Illinois River and export them to China. 

The Asian grass carp was brought purposefully to the US in 1963 for aquatic weed control, as the species feeds on plankton as opposed to other fish. Then, silver carp was introduced from Asia in the 1970s to control algae growth in fish farms and municipal wastewater treatment facilities, but the fish quickly escaped into the wild.

Spokesperson for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission Marc Gaden supports the move to make a business out of an invasive species.

But he said that creating a market in the US for Asian carp would constitute "surrendering and making do with what you've been dealt - not what Mother Nature intended."

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