If you spend a little time in the regional news, you might know the spread of the Asian Carp has reached epidemic levels. It has the discriminating diet of a billygoat and the reproductive powers of a bunny rabbit. It is a hearty old beast, reaching up to 40 pounds apiece by eating nearly half their weight in plankton to the detriment of all the indigenous species. One characteristic trait of the flying fish is its utter bewilderment by boat motors, causing them to leap out of the water and strike passengers.
How did we get them? These bottom feeders were imported to Arkansas in a contested decision to have them clean out the waterways. A flood deposited them in the Mississippi where they have proven quite hearty in a variety of water temperatures.
An estimated 20 million pounds of asian carp are in the waterways where the Department of Natural Resources is taking drastic steps to keep them out of Lake Michigan. Ideas are in the works to harvest as many as possible for homeless shelters, prisons, and even to be ground into fertilizer and animal feed.
Outside of some pockets of Chicago’s Asian communities, there doesn’t seem to be a market for commercial fishermen to sell this catch. This confuses the USGS’s Duane Chapman, who has put a very informative how-to series on youtube on how prepare the asian carp, which he feels yields very tasty and high-quality fillets despite an undeserved bad rap. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Fact: There once was an ugly and plentiful fish no one would even consider eating called the Patagonian Toothfish. Some savvy marketers got together and it now commands a high price on restaurant menus under a different name… “Chilean Sea Bass.”