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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora