Conservation Connection: Eating Asian Carp

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(KPLR) – They wreak havoc in and over crowd our river ecosystems, they out compete native fish, and they even smack boaters in mid-air.  We’re talking about Asian carp on Conservation Connection.  River ecologist Quinton Phelps tells us more about these aquatic invaders, and how we can fight back – by eating them!

Q.  First of all, what are these things and how did they get here?

  • 2 species—big head and silver carp
  • Large plankton-eating fish
  • Originally imported from Asiato aquaculture facilities in Arkansas to control water quality
  • Escaped and spread throughout the Mississippi River basin.
  • Carps can now be found in 23 of the United States open waters

Q. What kinds of problems do they cause in the river?

  • Habitat alterations
  • Out-compete native species for food
  • Overcrowding
  • Negative impact on floodplains
  • Dangerous to boaters

Q. Sounds like a fish that deserves to be eaten . . . but can they be?

  • Yes! . . . Blind taste test of Asian carp vs. tilapia and catfish with 300 people participating…. over half chose Asian carp as tasting the best
  • Being plankton feeders means little chance of absorbing contaminants, so they’re safe
  • Easy to fillet (demonstrate)
  • Cooking ideas . . . ?

Help protect our rivers and fight back against the invaders—catch them, cook them and eat them!