We hear about the dangers of Asian Carp on an almost regular basis, but it’s pretty rare to hear about a success story surrounding the species threatening our great lakes let alone a possibly profitable and appetizing one. Yet, that’s exactly what I have to share with you today, and that’s no fish baloney! Except when it is fish baloney…
“Without them, I think we’d be a dying breed,” said Ron Brown, 64, a commercial fisherman who has worked the waterways of Illinois for decades. Behind him, in a flat-bottom fishing boat, lay his day’s catch — a gooey, 5,000-pound heap of invasive Asian carp.
These omnipresent fish rank among the worst environmental threats facing the Midwest, but along the front lines of their invasion, they are sparking an economic mini-boom. The federal government is throwing $50 million at the problem this year, including generous bounties for the fishing industry. Meanwhile, entrepreneurial processors are cashing in on high demand for the fish abroad and placing bets on a burgeoning domestic market.
“We basically took a bad fish and turned it into a good fish,” said Lisa McKee, CEO of Big River Fish Corp., a Pearl, Ill., fish processing plant that now owes 80 percent of its business to aquatic invaders infesting long stretches of the Ohio, Illinois and Missouri rivers.
Another processor, Schafer Fisheries in Thompson, Ill., sold 30 million pounds of carp last year, much of it ground for fertilizer or sliced into fillets. Although unpopular with Americans, bighead and silver carp are some of the most-consumed meats in China. The plant owner, Michael Schafer, 56, said he hopes to boost his profits by selling foreign buyers on his just-perfected formula for carp baloney and, of all things, carp hot dogs.
via The Daily