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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid