Much has been said about the concern for the Great Lakes ecosystem with the threat of the Asian Carp. Should the Asian Carp make it in to Lake Michigan, not only could a very valuable fishing industry be decimated, but an entire ecosystem could be destroyed. Concerns are that the carp would out-compete the current fish living in the great lakes for food, causing the current native species to slowly fade out.
Politicians at the state and federal levels and different federal agencies have thrown out plenty of ideas of what to do about this, but some in Chicago have proposed an altogether different response.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources had a public tasting event where they hired a professional chef to concoct some dishes made from the Asian Carp, trying to demonstrate its capabilities as a food source. Most tasters didn’t mind, and actually enjoyed the taste, and there are potential plans to catch the carp and distribute it to various food banks and homeless shelters. Unfortunately, for both the restaurant scene and even food banks, there is the issue of marketing. People don’t want to think about eating the “Asian Carp.” These problems are hardly knew to the seafood industry. Many of you may enjoy eating the Chilean Seabass (hopefully not too often, because it is an endangered species, victim of overfishing), but what you may not know is that the Chilean Seabass was previously referred to as the “Patagonian Toothfish.” If you went in to a seafood restaurant, i’d bet you’d be more likely to order the “seabass” than the “toothfish” With that said, some suggest the Carp needs to be re-marketed as the “silverfin.”
The Illinois DNR hasn’t figured out how exactly it will catch and process the fish for food banks, as the plans are still early in development.
So what do we think, is this a proper and effective way to protect the great lakes ecosystem? Many of the concerns are to protect the Great Lakes fishing industry, not to protect the great lakes themselves. Does this change your perception of it, that the major concerns aren’t ecological diversity but rather protecting an economic industry? Maybe ecological diversity and the economic industry are too closely related for this to matter.