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Businesses Seek To Turn Asian Carp Into Food

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Asian Carp

In concentrated numbers, the leaping Asian carp pose significant danger to boaters navigating the open rivers. But from a purely ecological standpoint, the non-native carp feed primarily on plankton and bacteria, collapsing the food chain. (Credit: CBS)

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PEORIA, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – A group of businesses is proposing a unique solution to the invasive Asian carp that’s threatening the Great Lakes.

As WBBM Newsradio 780′s Dave Marsett reports, the group’s slogan is, “If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Dave Marsett reports


The Peoria Journal Star says the businesses, including food processing plants, are developing a plan to make the fish and its byproduct palatable and profitable.

While several groups and restaurants have already started cooking up the fish, the planners say food-processing plants along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers could also convert what’s left over to fish oil and pet food.

The Asian carp have been migrating northward in the Mississippi River and its tributaries for decades after escaping from Southern fish farms and sewage lagoons. The threat of their entry into the Great Lakes has touched off a legal dispute over whether to close shipping locks on Chicago waterways that could serve as doorways to Lake Michigan for the unwanted fish.

Silver and bighead carp are voracious eaters of plankton — tiny plants and animals at the base of the aquatic food chain. Biologists say if they become established in the Great Lakes, they could starve out competitors and threaten the $7 billion sport and commercial fishing industry.

Federal officials contend the electric barrier about 25 miles south of Lake Michigan is adequately thwarting the carp’s advance.

Michigan and four other states have sued in federal court to close the locks, a move resisted by barge operators and businesses that rely on cargo shipping in the Chicago area. The U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. District Judge Robert Dow last year denied requests to close the locks immediately, but the lawsuit is going forward.

Eating the Asian carp became its own fad last year as the legal dispute persisted. Chef Phillip Foss, formerly of the Lockwood Restaurant at the Palmer House Hilton, was serving up the fish last year in ceviche form, under the name “Shanghai bass.”

State officials say they’ll look at the latest plan.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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