News / USA

Illinois' Solution to Asian Carp Invasion: Eat Them

Kane Farabaugh

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.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs