Monday, July 19, 2010

State Teams With Businesses To Reduce Asian Carp

By Kevin Lee, Illinois Statehouse News
Illinois is turning to supermarkets, restaurants and dining tables halfway around the world to help solve its Asian Carp problem. Gov. Pat Quinn announced last week the state will team with Chinese meat processing company Beijing Zhuochen Animal Husbandry Company and Illinois-based Big River Fish Corporation to harvest 30 million pounds of carp from Illinois rivers and waterways.

Quinn is hoping that the public-private partnership will diminish the threat of the voracious Asian carp, which threatens the ecosystem of the Great Lakes and its estimated $7 billion commercial and sport fishing industry.

"If you can't beat them, you eat them," the governor said. Under the agreement, Big River will use its fishery downriver from Havana, to process, package and ship carp to Zhuochen for resale. The carp is a much more popular culinary fish in China and other parts of Asia than in the U.S.

The state through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will invest $2 million in capital funds to help Big River retrofit its existing fishery, as well as expand to new production facilities .

Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club in Illinois, said shipping carp to China might help stem the northbound flow of the fish towards the Great Lakes. "So, even if there is little chance of fishing them entirely out of the Illinois River, it may well be possible to make a dent in their population, and in the migration pressure," Darin said in a statement. "It also could be another reason to keep cleaning up the Illinois River, if the nation's most populous country is developing a taste for fish harvested from it."

You can read Kevin's full report at:  http://illinois.statehousenewsonline.com/3662/state-teams-with-businesses-to-reduce-asian-carp/

In the pic:  A fisherman sorting Asian Carp at Big River Fish Corp.

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