Eat the Invaders!


A lot of ecologists are wringing their hands about aggressive invasive species these days, though they're nothing new. The first recorded case was in 1245, "when Norse voyagers brought a soft-shelled clam to the shores of the North Sea on the sides of their wooden ships." Still, in an era of global trade more and more fish, bacteria, and plants are hitching rides to foreign lands, causing some serious changes. Today's New York Times op-ed section has the solution. Eat the invaders.

A half billion giant jellyfish a day forming a slimy ring around your island nation? No problem:

The citizens of Fukui, a northern Japanese island, coped by marketing souvenir cookies flavored with powdered jellyfish. Returning from a fact-finding mission to China, a professor from Japan's National Fisheries University offered up 10 different recipes for preparing Nomura's jellyfish. "Making them a popular food," he told a Japanese newspaper, "is the best way to solve the problem."

In the U.S., huge super-powered Asian carp are muscling their way north on the Mississippi and have been spotted just 25 miles from Lake Michigan. What to do?:

If we want to forestall our looming carp quagmire, [the Japanese approach] is the kind of attitude we need to adopt on our shores. Sports fishermen are already doing their part by angling for the pests (as the presence of such titles as International Carper, TotalCarp, and Carpology on magazine racks attests). Restaurateurs from Tupelo to Toronto could pitch in by replacing the bland-fleshed channel catfish on their menus with equally bland-fleshed Asian carp. It seems only fair: it was catfish farmers in the South who imported the fish to filter algae from their ponds in the 1970s and allowed them to escape into the wild during the Mississippi floods of 1993…Asian carp, Cajun-style, anyone?

More on the joys of invasive species here (snakehead fish are delish), and here (zebra mussels, anyone?)