Wiping out our native fish
“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 home state. Spawning 3-4 times a year, a single female silver carp produces upwards 1 million eggs every cycle. Up to 70% of these eggs survive, with very few natural predators in waiting. Silver and bighead carp now inhabit at least 28 states, and are steering toward more.
“In some waterways, they make up nearly 95 percent of total biomass after out-eating nearly every other native species,” adds Dr. Quinton Phelps, a fisheries biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Watch this video with Rusty talking about Asian carp reproduction.
Asian carp distribution (2015)
Note: These data (maps) are preliminary or provisional and are subject to revision. They are being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The data have not received final approval by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and are provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the US Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the data.
Flooding sets up the perfect storm for spawning
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 fish are tearing through rivers at alarming numbers
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.
Watch this April 2014 video from the AP – there was a lot of panic and chaos as hundreds of Asian carp frantically leaped from the waters of Missouri’s Creve Coeur Lake, bombarding Washington University’s rowing team during a practice session. It is no laughing matter – Asian carp hit hard and can seriously injure.
They’re entering the brackish waters of Louisiana’s coastal zone, placing our oyster, shrimp and crab fisheries at imminent risk
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.”
Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em
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.
Robert “Robbie” Walker, a member of the Silverfin™ Marketing Group and co-ownerand general manager of the Louisiana Seafood Exchange, addresses the importance of this solution to our domestic markets:
“The US is pushing past 80 percent of all seafood consumed being imported. That trend is not abating; instead, it is still gaining. It’s not likely to stop anytime soon. Commercial harvest for human consumption gives us the chance to actually gain some of that domestic production back, and with that revitalize our fisheries and create jobs. This fish is prevalent, it’s easy to harvest, and it’s delicious!”
“All signs point to increasing numbers of carp and worsening impacts. Also, there are no proven control methods for this species other than direct removal of fish from the water. Therefore, some incentive must be provided to encourage human consumption and commercial fisheries for these species. If we don’t find a way to limit their numbers, they are likely to literally eat our lunch,” adds Michael Massimi.
We must continue to work in partnership with our policy makers to ensure that the native habitats and people who live under the Asian carp’s reign of terror, are readily lifted from harms way nationwide, and given the chance to enjoy a better life.
Chef Philippe Parola stresses:
“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.
On the road, on the river and at the table, Chef Philippe and his Silverfin™ Marketing Group are leading the effort by uniting fishery and wildlife leaders, politicians, scientists, fishermen, hunters, chefs and home cooks to achieve these goals:
- Construct an eco-friendly food processing plant which utilizes ‘green’ technologies to minimize our environmental footprint.
- Preserve our natural resources and ensure safe waterways
- Nourish our country and improve our health through wild caught, clean, natural high protein fish
- Boost our domestic economies, and save and create jobs
- Provide financial incentives and resources to revitalize inland commercial fisheries, and preserve sport fisheries and recreation
“The abundance of Asian carp here in the US is ripe for creating a high quality, fairly inexpensive, end product that can be marketed nationwide to consumers through retail, foodservice, military, schools and many institutional business sectors. The time for embracing a fishery and a production method for those fish is long overdue. It is now time to move to the production and marketing side of this fish story,” adds Robert “Robbie” Walker, Co-owner and General Manager, Louisiana Seafood Exchange.
Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em! Please join us to solve our Asian carp crisis.