On Tuesday, Gov. Quinn announced Illinois would harvest dreaded Asian carp from the state's waterways and sell it as a delicacy in China. 07.13.10_GOV_Asian_Carp_Agreement_RELEASE-1.pdf
The upside? Creation of 180 new jobs. Export revenues for Illinois. And fewer carp. To be precise, 30 million fewer pounds of carp by the end of 2011.
But is that enough to make a difference?
Fish biologists seem to think so. Already, it requires longer hours of work and smaller-mesh nets to catch the fish because many of the largest ones have been caught and the overall numbers seem to be down.
Asian carp have pushed north to an electric barrier near Romeoville, threatening to get into the Great Lakes and possibly devastating the lakes' huge commercial fishing industry. If commercial fishing can reduce the number of carp in the rivers below the barrier, it could ease the pressure and reduce the chance that rogue fish would swim through.
Kevin Irons, a large river ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, estimates that a million pounds of carp a month already are being harvested. (Few of those are going to China.) Taking 30 million more pounds through the end of next year would be significant.
As reviled as the carp are here for posing a threat to the Great Lakes, Mr. Liang Chang, chairman of Beijing Zhuochen Animal Husbandry Co., said in a statement: "The high quality and taste of the wild Asian carp from [Downstate Illinois processor] Big River Fish far exceeded our expectations. We see a tremendous market in China for the wild Asian carp."
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