Out of the water and onto our plates: combating Asian carp invasion with cutlery
Originally native to the Yangtze River in southeastern China, “Asian carp” collectively refers to bighead (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), black (Mylopharyngodon piceus), grass (Ctenopharyngodon idella), and silver (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) carp varieties. In the 1960s and 70s, fish farmers in Arkansas first imported Asian carp in order to remove algal growth from commercial ponds. When flood waters overtook these fisheries, the imported carp escaped into the Mississippi River. Without any natural predators, the carp have flourished, out-competing native fish throughout the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois River systems. Consequently, these fish are now considered to be an invasive species in the United States. The continued dominance of an invasive species, such as the Asian carp, in regional waterways has a negative impact on native riverine ecosystems as well as the fishing industry. However, harvesting these pesky fish for food or for fertilizer could offer a practical solution to the carp conundrum at hand.