News / USA

    Illinois' Solution to Asian Carp Invasion: Eat Them

    The Asian carp, a species of fish brought from China to the U.S. several decades ago, is a growing concern in the midwest state of Illinois.  The number of Asian carp in the state’s waterways has soared in recent years, choking out many native fish species.  But state officials hope to solve the problem, and also strike a blow against local hunger, by changing public attitudes about the much-maligned fish.

    Asian carp found in the Illinois River are large, much too plentiful, and, says  Travis Loyd, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "It’s ugly.  The fish is predominantly not a pretty fish," he said.

    But Louisiana chef Philippe Parola strongly disagrees. "This fish is just as good-looking as a salmon or a lake trout or any others.  So quit calling it ugly because it’s not ugly," he said.

    No matter how the fish looks, Parola and fellow chef Tim Creehan are teaming up with Illinois state officials in a campaign to whet the public's appetite for the Asian carp. "It’s very palatable and very pleasing when you taste it," he said.

    "We’ve got to show people that this fish tastes good.  It can be worked with preparation wise, and this fish can be very servable and very edible in every capacity," said Loyd.

    Asian carp is widely consumed in China, but most fish-eaters in the United States avoid it because they confuse it with native carp. These fish are bottom-feeders that many people believe are contaminated by toxic pollutants, including mercury.  But Asian carp, which are not really carp at all, feed on plankton and algae near the surface of rivers and lakes.  That is why they're often seen jumping out of the water.

    Travis Loyd says Asian carp is a clean fish, with low levels of mercury, that’s safe to eat. "We’ve tested it - the levels are in most cases nil, and it is the safest fish," he said.

    Another reason many Americans avoid eating Asian carp is that it is bony, difficult to fillet and hard to sell in fresh fish markets.  But Chef Creehan says when the fish is cooked, the bones come out easily, enabling food processors to package it as a ready-to-serve product.  

    Better still, says Creehan: Asian carp is cheap. "The average price per pound of ocean fish is $6 a pound (or about $13  per kilogram) whole.  This is looking at 12 to 20 cents (per pound, or about 26 to 40 cents per kilogram).  So this is so affordable," he said.

    Travis Loyd hopes greater interest in Asian carp as a food product will cause it to be more heavily fished out of lakes and streams. He says that would not only reduce pressure on native fish species and the fragile Great Lakes ecosystem, but would also provide an economic boost at a time when unemployment in Illinois is high. "We recognize this could create a lot of jobs. It could bring back commercial fishing in Illinois. It could absolutely help our food insecurity if we could come up with a product viable (enough) to go through the food bank system, and possibly into the diets of school systems, prison systems, things of that nature," he said.

    It could take some time before consumers see Asian carp on the menu in restaurants or in grocery store freezers.  In fact, they may not see "Asian carp" at all, if Chef Parola is successful.  He has licensed the term "silverfin" and hopes the name catches on in the campaign to give this invasive fish a new image.


    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora