1000’s of invasive species wreak havoc with our economy, our native ecosystems, and our livelihood, many of which are edible. Meet one of the most menacing: Asian carp, most notably, silver and bighead.
“Asian carp are taking over and wiping out our native fish,” states Rusty Campbell, a Louisiana fisherman who knows first hand the fragile state of the fishing industry in his homeland.
Catch this video featuring Rusty talking about the rapid rate of the silver’s reproduction
When the levels of the Mississippi and other rivers rise high, fish biologists state that the waters give Asian carp new places to invade and increase their numbers. Their populations can stay under the radar for years, but then suddenly explode, often during floods. The fish like to spawn in warm, fast-moving waters, and these conditions reach perfection during floods.
“During floods, the fish are able to get into spots they hadn’t before, where they can reproduce,” says Duane Chapman, a fish biologist for the US Geological Survey considered a top Asian carp expert. “Even in places where they can’t reproduce, they can live for 25 years, scaring boaters and creating ecological havoc by consuming food other fish need.
These huge feisty ravenous fish have run rampant through the Mississippi River Basin for decades, and are now tearing up rivers beyond the Basin – the Wabash, White and Tippecanoe in Indiana; the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers in Tennessee; the Kansas and Verdigris rivers in Kansas; the Missouri River threading through Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota; the St. Croix River in Minnesota; and all the way down south where the Red River flows through the Mississippi and into the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana.
And they have already seized the Illinois River:
“The Illinois River has more Asian carp per mile than any other,” notes Duane Chapman.
Kevin Irons, an ecologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources who has studied the carp, said he and other scientists found 4,100 adult silver carp per mile in a 66-mile stretch of the Illinois River north of Peoria; with each individual fish having the capacity to reach upwards 80 pounds.
Kevin said that although there isn’t a similar study for bighead carp, he believes the numbers are similar. The research, published in 2009, found that silver carp populations increased 84 percent between 1998 and 2008 in that same 66-mile stretch.
Michael Massimi, Invasive Species Coordinator, Barataria-Terrebonne, National Estuary Program, describes the urgent need to address the critical situation in Louisiana’s coastal zone:
“A thousand miles to the south (of the Great Lakes), there is much less attention and many fewer resources being devoted (to the Asian carp crisis). Unlike the Great Lakes where carp invasion may yet be prevented, the introduction of Asian carp into Louisiana’s coastal zone is now unavoidable. But the impacts may be just as severe.
At risk is a commercial and recreational fisheries industry (for shrimp, oysters, blue crab, menhaden and other finfish) worth an estimated total impact of $3.5 billion per year to the state. The industry supports roughly 40,000 jobs, and the coastal zone provides an estimated 21% of all fisheries landings by weight in the lower 48 states according to the Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Bighead carp have already been found in the East Bay, a brackish area near the mouth of the Mississippi River, and silver carp have been found in Vermilion Bay, Lake Pontchartrain, and the coastal marshes around Port Sulphur, LA, all locations with some salinity.”.
We must protect the Great Lakes
We recognize with gratitude the aid our government has given to help halt Asian carp from harming the Great Lakes. They must continue to do everything in their power to prevent carp from destroying the fisheries economy and ecology of the earth’s largest freshwater ecosystem. They are installing an additional electrical barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, with plans to build the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, 50 miles downstream from Lake Michigan.
We must also address our nationwide crisis
Crucial to resolving the Asian carp crisis is a sustainable solution that not only protects the Great Lakes, but also directly tackles the continued destruction that Asian carp impose on native habits and lives throughout the Mississippi River Basin, and our country.
“The potential impacts of Asian carp to Mississippi’s native fish species, as well as our country’s aquatic resources, are of great concern. These species are now firmly established in the Mississippi River and in river systems and lakes in the Delta region of Mississippi. We recognize that commercial harvest of Asian carp is currently the most viable way to manage and control these populations,” states Larry Pugh, Fisheries Bureau Director, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks.
For the past five years, Chef Philippe Parola and his Silverfin™ Group have been working on the only solution that can effectively manage Asian carp’s ever worsening threat to our native habitats and lives: commercial harvest for human consumption in domestic markets.
“The potential impacts of Asian carp to Mississippi’s native fish species, as well as our country’s aquatic resources, are of great concern. These species are now firmly established in the Mississippi River and in river systems and lakes in the Delta region of Mississippi. We recognize that commercial harvest of Asian carp is currently the most viable way to manage and control these populations,”
“The time has come to “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy, during his inaugural address.
We must get Asian carp out of the water and onto the plate! We must transform these wild caught fish into value added food products for our country – natural, safe, affordable, delicious nutritious products with the palate pleasing name Silverin™. This is the only way to greatly reduce the population of Asian carp and manage their ever worsening threat to our native habitats and lives.”
Watch this video featuring Chef Philippe on CBS News: Chef crusades to make carp the catch of the day, Dec 2014
“Asian carp have become a serious threat to the ecological balance of our country’s aquatic resources. Currently, the only viable control for managing this growing invasion is commercial harvest. Chef Philippe Parola’s value added concept has a lot of potential for incentivizing the commercial fishing industry by increasing the value of these fish,” states Mark Oliver, Chief of Fisheries, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Catch this video from The Scientist featuring Clint Carter of Carter’s Fish Market in Springfield, Illinois, catching and preparing Asian carp. Clint has worked side by side with Chef Philippe to promote the edibility of Asian carp at several outdoor events.
Catch this video from Voice of America News featuring Chef Philippe and Chef Tim Creehan as they team up to wet appetites for Asian carp!