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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid