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Great Lakes Article:

Getting rid of Asian carp a problem
By Mike Riopell
Quad City Times
Published March 11, 2008


SPRINGFIELD — It can be difficult for a company that makes its money selling fish to turn away commercial fishermen with boats loaded full of thousands of pounds of the day’s catch.

But if no one wants to eat the fish, throwing them back can be the only option.

That’s at the root of the problem in trying to get rid of the Asian carp. The large, ugly fish isn’t native to Illinois or Iowa. And it’s not a treat that many locals have cravings for.

But it’s nonetheless clogging up the Illinois River and squeezing out native species such as catfish, much to the chagrin of those in the fishing business.

Fishermen want to get rid of the Asian carp, but they have yet to find a good way to do so.

Much of the government focus on Asian carp so far has been keeping the species from migrating up the river and into the Great Lakes. Electric barriers to stun the fish and block them have been built.

In the meantime, the fishing industry is looking for some help on the river.

“It’s almost a complete devastation,” said Kirby Marsden, president of the Illinois Commercial Fishing Association.

Marsden says fisheries across the state combine to sell about 4 million pounds of Asian carp a year.

But with an estimated 20 million pounds in the river and growing, that take isn’t making a dent. While fishermen can catch them, they have a hard time selling them.

So Sen. Deanna Demuzio, D-Carlinville, has proposed that the state buy the carp, then have them ground into livestock feed, fertilizer or something similar.

“We’re just trying to make sure we can get them caught and get them out of here,” she said.

Her legislation has yet to be debated in the Senate.

In 2006, the state gave a $750,000 grant to Shafer Fisheries in Thomson, Ill., for equipment to make the fish into patties. Owner Mike Shafer bought the equipment, but he does not use it because no one wants to buy Asian carp patties.

The state could buy the patties and feed them to prison inmates; it’s cheap food, and would help curb the carp problem, he said

Mike Riopell can be contacted at (217) 789-0865 or mike.riopell@lee.net.

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