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

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

These Women Helped Save the World

Women who were known as “Rosie the Riveters” during World War II are honored by the Netherlands More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design 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.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

VOA Blogs