The Mississippi River flows through the heart of America. It is such an amazing resource that 18 million people rely on its water and thousands use the River for recreation. But our River is being threatened by invasive species.
As environments were formed, each organism evolved to be complimentary. The ecosystem of the River, as it evolved, was balanced. Invasive species do just that – invade – throwing off the natural balance of the environment.
One such invasive species is the Asian Carp. These fish are causing widespread damage to the waterways of America by outcompeting the native species.
There are seven types of Asian Carp, including your pet goldfish, but there are three that are causing major issues to the environment; Bighead, Silver and Grass Carp. Bighead and Silver Carp are filter feeders that directly compete with other native filter feeders in the River. Grass Carp are herbivores that dramatically reduce the amount of aquatic vegetation. All three of these fish can consume almost their entire body weight in one day, allowing them to outcompete native organisms, such as mussels and other fish. Since these fish do not have any natural predators, their population size is able to continue growing very quickly.
Asian Carp were introduced to the US in the 1960s and 70s by fish farmers that needed fish to clean their tanks by eating algae and other tiny organisms. Flooding in the eighties and nineties accidentally released into the Mississippi and other rivers.
Today, we are seeing the fish swim very rapidly up the River. They have been able to move up to fifty miles north per year. Bighead and Silver Carp are able to jump up to ten feet out of the water, creating dangerous conditions for boaters and others enjoying the River. They have even injured people by catching them off guard and hitting them with their massive 100 pound bodies.
One way to help prevent the spread is by not releasing minnows; this includes live bait fish, in the River. The Bighead and Silver Carp youngsters are very hard to distinguish from other native fish, so they have been mixed up with other bait fish and been released into rivers and lakes.
Another proposed solution is to use Rotenone, a poison that basically suffocates all fish and other organisms in the water. We think it would be pretty crazy to kill everything in the water just to get rid of this one type of fish. Clearly, Rotenone is not a practical solution.
Our solution? Just eat them! Many government officials along the River are asking, why just throw away the fish when they can be turned into a great meal for someone? There are many great meals that can be made from the meat of the carp. Follow this link for some great recipes.
Which one is your favorite? Send it in using our contact page and we may just post it on the blog!