Biologists using electric probes along the CH Sanitary Ship Canal. (Photo: USCG, Petty Officer Bill Colclough)
Fish company to inventively tackle Asian carp problem
Friday, June 15, 2012, 22:40 (GMT + 9)
Illinois officials this week announced the state's support for an Asian carp fish processing plant. American Heartland Fish Products will solve an invasive species problem and reap profits at the same time by developing a processing plant for Asian carp in Grafton, Illinois.
Gray Magee, CEO of American Heartland, said the plan was born two years ago.
“We developed over the last couple of years a process of putting a plant in Grafton and aiming it towards the Asian carp,” Magee stated, KMOX reports.
Both the federal and state government want to rid the rivers of Asian carp because the species only eats plankton, meaning that it competes with native species for food, he explained.
The group plans to process the fish and export it to Asian countries for human consumption or else convert it into fishmeal or fish oil.
“That makes our plant very unique in that we have a way to make a 100 per cent green operation by having no odour or sewage problems at all from the plant,” Magee commented.
At the same time, fishing for these Asian carp will harm other species, as they will be harvested as bycatch.
“As of right now, every time they set that net out, they’re getting about 80 per cent of silver carp and big head carp,” Magee clarified.
American Heartland will begin by making fishmeal and fish oil in two to three months, when the company receives the necessary equipment.
“If the markets are there, the processing of the fish will probably be ready in about five months,” he said.
Exporting to China will boost revenues for American Heartland, improve Grafton's tax base, generate more permanent regional jobs and help control Asian carp populations, The Telegraph reports.
"It's looking good in negotiations with China State Farms to finalize a long-term supply agreement with exporting Asian carp to China," Magee said. "It will let us create many permanent jobs - not temporary ones - for the area, and it will also revitalize the commercial fishing industry for this area and improve the tax structure for the city, county, state and federal government."
American Heartland hopes to eventually create a value-added US consumer fish product from Asian carp and an animal feed product in conjunction with Falcon Protein.
By Natalia Real