Fish Sticks for Everyone!

Written by Sarah on July 26, 2011

By now you’ve probably heard about the Asian Carp that are terrorizing the people of Illinois. Hold on, let me rephrase that – I made it sound like the finned invaders are lurking behind mailboxes and attacking anyone who looks like Mike Ditka or wears a Cubs jersey. That’s not quite the case. Rather, these hideous fish are moving up the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, endangering boaters and threatening the Great Lakes ecosystems.

Is it possible to win this war? If so, is there a “win-win” solution?

There just may be one in the near future.

According to a July 14th UPI report, the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources wants to feed ‘em to the poor. They’re already paying commercial fishermen to harvest the fish, to the tune of 150 tons this year. Some of it is exported to countries where the “Tennessee Trout” are considered a delicacy, but a lot of it is just thrown away.

Now DNR is working with an association of food pantries to use the carp to feed the poor. I’m sure it’s a little more complicated than that, and there might be a hurdle or two to overcome, but seems like a great idea to me.

To paraphrase Forrest Gump’s buddy Bubba: “Carp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, carp-kabobs, carp creole, carpp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple carp, lemon carp, coconut carp, pepper carp, carp soup, carp stew, carp salad, carp and potatoes, carp burger, carp sandwich. That- that’s about it.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., July 14 (UPI) — Illinois says it wants to deal with the problem of invasive Asian carp by grinding the voracious fish into fish sticks to feed the poor.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has proposed the strategy to deal with the invasive species that has taken over the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and threatens the ecology of the Great Lakes, the St. Louis (Mo.) Post-Dispatch reported Thursday.

“We’ll filet them and pull the bones out and turn them into fish sticks, or the equivalent of canned tuna,” Tom Main, acting deputy director at the DNR said. “The fish actually taste pretty good.”

There’s no shortage of the fish to work with, since the state pays commercial fishermen to pull Asian carp out of the northern Illinois River in an effort to keep them out of the canals and rivers that connect to Lake Michigan.

“We’ve pulled out 150 tons just this year,” Main said.

In 2008, Asian carp constituted 82 percent of the commercial catch on the Illinois River and 30 percent on the Mississippi, the DNR said. Some of the carp is exported to China, where it is considered a delicacy.

The department is working with Feeding Illinois, an association of food pantries.

Tracy Smith, Feeding Illinois’ director, said carp is a good source of protein and other sources are getting expensive, noting the price of a truckload of tuna has risen from $45,000 to $75,000.

“I really like the way the DNR is handling this,” she said.

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This blog is written by Pete Robbins, Facts of Fishing blogger.

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  • J Walker

    I’d heard that they were also considering dog and cat food companies as possible recipients as well.  Fertilizer would be another good use.  We’ve been burying Grand River Salmon (Carp) in my mother’s flowers for 40+ years…