News / USA

    Invasive Asian Carp Harm Commercial Fishing Industry

    Commerical fisherman Chad Isaak and a partner haul in a boatload of invasive Asian Carp, Jul 2010
    Commerical fisherman Chad Isaak and a partner haul in a boatload of invasive Asian Carp, Jul 2010

    The multi-billion-dollar commercial fishing industry in the Great Lakes region of the United States employs more than 800,000 people, but is threatened by the invasive Asian Carp - despite continued efforts to keep the fish out of the region's lakes.

    Chad Isaak, who has fished the Illinois River for 27 years, says he saw his first Asian carp in 1996, and his life as a commercial fisherman has not been the same since.

    "These Asian Carp are the plague," said Isaak.  Isaak does not usually fish for the invasive Asian Carp, which have populated Illinois waterways to the point where they literally jump out of the water.  He seeks catfish and buffalo fish, tastier and more marketable species found in lakes and rivers like the Illinois River.  But more and more Asian Carp are edging out the populations of those native fish species, and keep finding their way into Isaak's nets.

    "If you fish for catfish and buffalo, you may throw two to three thousand pounds of Asian Carp back to get the fish that you need," said Isaak.  "And then the quality of the buffalo, they're getting thin and smaller in the rivers."

     

    There's an old saying, "if you can't beat them, join them," and that is just what Isaak is doing to help make ends meet.

    On a warm summer day, when he usually would not be fishing - and on a part of the Illinois River where commercial fishing is normally illegal - Isaak and his fellow fisherman are casting their nets to drive the Asian Carp out of the water.

    Gary Lutterbie is a fish biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  He is teamed up with Isaak to track and weigh the amount of fish they are bringing in to help the DNR better understand the scale of the Asian Carp problem.

    "Our aspect of the project is to harvest the Asian Carp before they get to the fish barrier to reduce the numbers so there is less chance of any Asian Carp getting past the barrier," said Lutterbie.

    This part of the Illinois River near Morris is several miles southwest of the electronic fish barrier, a critical point along the Illinois waterway system meant to stop the Asian Carp from reaching Lake Michigan.

    "Every fish we take out there is one less fish to challenge the electric barrier further upstream yet," said Lutterbie.  "We're still trying to feel our way along the river and see where the fish are, and I think we'll end up bringing in more commercial fisherman to increase our harvest of these fish."

    The fish they take out of the water here will not be served as food. A fishery in Northwest Illinois has agreed to take in the Asian Carp to process them as fertilizer.

    Right now, says Chad Isaak, Asian Carp are not marketable enough to sell as food.

    "It's a begging situation where you have to beg them to take your fish," said Isaak.

    But those fortunes could soon change. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed an agreement with China to export 14 million kilograms of Asian Carp per year.

    Isaak says there needs to be better infrastructure in place to support the harvest of the invasive species.  "We want it to be like a farmer, when he raises his crop, he can sell it in any town," said Isaak.

    Right now there are only two facilities in Illinois where Isaak can take Asian Carp to be processed.  He says increased demand for the fish could solve two problems - getting paid to fish a nuisance out of the river, and returning the populations of native fish to normal levels not seen in several decades.

    And with fewer Asian Carp crossing his nets, Isaak hopes normalcy will return to a way of life he has known since the age of ten.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.