Immigration

Asian Carp: Illegal Immigrants of the North

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President Obama has his hands full these days, what with the Gulf Oil Spill, the change of command in Afghanistan, Wall Street reform, Supreme Court decisions and replacements, and even some old-fashioned Russian

espionage. Nevertheless, Great Lakes environmental groups sent a letter to the president today urging him to intervene in the great illegal immigration panic of the American northeast: the Asian carp invasion. But just as recent efforts down south to keep out foreign people have been heavy handed, costly, and ineffective, the war on foreign fish up north doesn't make much sense, either.

It started with the Army Corps of Engineers' underwater electric fence and monitoring systems to protect native fish populations from the carp hordes. Price tag: $16 million. After genetic material belonging to the carp was found on the other side of the barrier, environmental groups went into a fish frenzy. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources dumped 2,200 gallons of poison into the water, killing 90 tons of fish but only one lonely carp. Price tag: $3 million. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox filed a lawsuit to shut down the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which would have hampered Chicago-area shipping industries worth $1.5 billion had the U.S. Supreme Court taken Cox's side. But no matter how many expensive overreactions the Great Lakes states fall for, the carp are coming. The Detroit Free Press reported today that:

"A bighead Asian carp was found last week in Lake Calumet six miles from Lake Michigan and miles beyond the electric barrier intended to halt the progress of carp from southern rivers into Lake Michigan."

Is it time for Michigan and Illinois fishermen to abandon the lakes and flee to Canadian waters, then? Not so fast. As The Stew, the Chicago Tribune's food blog, pointed out:

We might as well start organizing the fishing tournament now. Search for open dates to hold Carpapalooza, our annual summer festival. Begin auditioning actors to play Carpy, the adorable mascot who'll work the promenade along Navy Pier, entertaining visitors of all ages ("Daddy, take my picture with Carpy!")

Chicago chefs, start whipping up those seasonal Asian carp recipes now. Chicagoans eat smelts, for crying out loud; they'll get used to eating Asian carp….

One chef says the fish is pretty tasty, a cross, he claims, between scallops and crab meat. Of course, people selling a fish always say it tastes good, and they always describe it as resembling something very mild in flavor. We'll see.

But I see this as a bandwagon we ought to be boarding. This is an edible, plentiful fish. And talk about sustainability—the fish are thriving even though we're trying to kill them.

The moment is coming. We might as well seize it. In other words, Carpe carp!

Obama should disregard environmental agencies and their fish xenophobia. The hungry bellies of Great Lakes-area seafood lovers are the best possible remedy to the purported carp problem.

Read more from Reason on the overblown Asian carp crisis here. Reason Senior Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward blogged about immigration barriers and the people (and fish!) who regularly outsmart them here.

NEXT: O Senator, Where Art Thou?

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  1. Look at that market go.

    Only news I can find on it was @ huffpo:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..27075.html

    It was in the local DNR magazine and discussed on a few radio shows.

    1. iPhones for carp?

      If they insist.

  2. Whoa, thats one big fish dude!

    LOu
    http://www.real-anonymity.se.tc

  3. Carpe carp!

    Win.

  4. But carp is crap!

  5. genetic material belonging to the carp was found on the other side of the barrier

    Condom done broke!

    1. A bighead Asian carp was found last week in Lake Calumet

      What was Michelle Malkin doing in Lake Calumet?

  6. The only solution I see to the carp problem is to fill the Great Lakes up with cement. Then we won’t have have to worry about the carp. I will admit there might be a few minor problems with my solution. 😉

    1. Please do not write your congressman.

    2. Then we have to ship along that route with trucks or rail, which cost more per mile and require more infrastructure.

    3. We had to boil the lake to save it.

      1. Where’s Louis Wu when you need him?

  7. Asian carp are basically inedible. The Chicago Reader knows this – they recruited ten chefs to try and carve some meals out of the bony, mushy-fleshed beasts. Nobody was impressed by the results, or by how little of the fish was usable.

    Here’s the article – http://www.chicagoreader.com/c…..id=1571974 – and some choice quotes.

    “Worse than the bighead’s appearance is a damn near impenetrable bone structure that, given how daunting it made filleting for even the pros, may be the fish’s best defense against theoretical legions of home cooks.”

    “Foss toyed with the idea offering his customers a relatively simple Asian carp sandwich at around $6 to $8. But given the specifications he asked Galvan for?100 percent boneless, skinless pieces?the cost shot up dramatically. Galvan wouldn’t quote a price per pound but explained, “Look at it this way. You’re losing 95 percent of the fish. For an 11-pound fish we got .6 pounds of meat. But that’s the specific spec that Phillip wanted. It doesn’t have to be the industry norm.”

    “Foss wanted to go ahead anyway?and he was excited about selling Asian carp. He wasn’t going to sugarcoat it; he had no plans to call it silverfin, as some boosters are already doing. “This fish has a lot of strikes against it,” he told me. “But this is not a bad-tasting fish. It was more like a bass than it was a carp. You want to do something productive to get it out of the water?why not fish it? Eat it for dinner tonight. These guys will figure out a way to produce it quickly.”

    But after a weekend trip to New Orleans just before he planned to try it, and more consideration of the cost and yield, Foss put the kibosh on an Asian carp dish at Lockwood.”

  8. The giant fish was apparently right outside my office window when that photo was taken. This disturbs me.

    1. I’m disturbed that you’ve got a window. Time was, the sweatshop guys took pride in their dank dismal slave pens. Now a days they’re all “Oh, let’s give you an office” “Oh, let’s stock the breakroom with Fiji Water and healthy snacks”

      1. You can take comfort in knowing that I’m in a row of cubicles and I have to lean back in my chair and turn my head to see the window.

  9. “We might as well start organizing the fishing tournament now.”

    Minnesota is 20 years ahead:

    Carp.

    They are notorious for not being one of the most attractive fish Minnesota has to offer.

    However, June 7 they were the most sought after at the 18th annual Carp Fest at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, sponsored by the Anoka County Parks and Recreation Department.

    With more than $10,000 in prizes, anglers both young and old set out to try their luck in the contest.

    Contestants were given a six-hour time frame to see who could reel in the biggest and even the smallest fish.

    Throughout the day, families and friends gathered in groups both large and small along the river banks.

    The crowd included infants, toddlers, children, teens and adults, both young and old.

    Each had their own special techniques and styles of fishing.

    http://abcnewspapers.com/index…..;Itemid=28

    1. From 2008, BTW.

    2. Indeed. I’m glad I moved to a place where they get things right most of the time.

    3. The fish in this story are common carp, not the Asian bighead carp that people are trying to keep out of the Great Lakes. Common carp invaded long ago and are fairly plentiful. They are held in low esteem; not many people fish for them for sport, and there is little market demand for them.

      Bighead carp suffer the same ill repute, and besides that they present a boating hazard by jumping high out of the water when startled, sometimes colliding with boats or their occupants.

      It’s probably true that they will eventually make their way into the Great Lakes no matter what we do, but you can see why people would try to stop them.

      1. Dear boat patrons of Lake Michigan,

        If you want to thwart flying fish, may I suggest that you pay for it.

        Sincerely,

        The guy priced out of employment by minimum wage hikes

        PS: Dicks!

        1. Hell with thwarting the flying fish. Find ways to encourage the jumping and take people out on skeet fishing charter tours. Now that’s the Market!

  10. Asian carp are basically inedible, and the Reader knows this. They recruited ten chefs to try and carve a meal out of the bony, bloody, mushy-fleshed critters. Most of the chefs disliked the taste, and those that did couldn’t make it work economically, because so much fish weight is bone.

    “Foss toyed with the idea offering his customers a relatively simple Asian carp sandwich at around $6 to $8. But given the specifications he asked Galvan for?100 percent boneless, skinless pieces?the cost shot up dramatically. Galvan wouldn’t quote a price per pound but explained, “Look at it this way. You’re losing 95 percent of the fish. For an 11-pound fish we got .6 pounds of meat. But that’s the specific spec that Phillip wanted. It doesn’t have to be the industry norm.”

    Foss wanted to go ahead anyway?and he was excited about selling Asian carp. He wasn’t going to sugarcoat it; he had no plans to call it silverfin, as some boosters are already doing. “This fish has a lot of strikes against it,” he told me. “But this is not a bad-tasting fish. It was more like a bass than it was a carp. You want to do something productive to get it out of the water?why not fish it? Eat it for dinner tonight. These guys will figure out a way to produce it quickly.”

    But after a weekend trip to New Orleans just before he planned to try it, and more consideration of the cost and yield, Foss put the kibosh on an Asian carp dish at Lockwood.”

    Even after experimenting on hundreds of pounds of fish, nobody’s getting better than an 8% yield of usable flesh.

    Robby Soave should have investigated this a little more thoroughly.

  11. But no matter how many expensive overreactions the Great Lakes states fall for, the carp are coming.

    Spending for the sake of spending. That’s how public policy works, no matter the (failing) results.

    1. USA USA USA!

      (now, where’d i put my pan fried carp….)

  12. A gigantic undercurrent of the environmental movement is that nothing should change, ever. Change is bad.

    It’s a myopic perspective to the point of blindness.

    1. Ironic, isn’t it? Everybody equates environmentalism with liberalism, yet the impulse to keep everything the way it is (or return it to a previous “uncorrupted” state) is essentially a conservative one.

  13. Another great example of government showing its talent for creating problems and having no fucking clue about how to solve said problems.

  14. So once again the fake libertarian Reason magazine comes down in favor of another government project, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. A true libertarian would want such a government owned boondoggle shut down immediately but no instead Reason supports it and the Asian carp which travel using this taxpayer paid for example of government waste.

  15. Why has no one thought of dynamite? It’ll kill/knock out a bunch of fish, they float at the surface, then scoop them up.

    Next!

    1. Actually they don’t float at the surface. The concussion collapses their swim bladders, and they sink. Don’t ask me how I know.

  16. You know who came up with a free market idea to Asian Carp issue? The god damn progressive weekly “The Chicago Reader”. It went around to chefs to ask them to hack together a dish. Most of the chefs said it tasted good, but the prep work was far too time consuming as a regular item.

    I thought the fishing contest would be good. If Chicago will give you $500 on a debit card for a hand gun, surely they can find a way to pay $50 per Carp.

  17. So I should embrace the little immigrants from China who are exterminating the Hemlock trees in the east? (And my yard, specifically.)

    I’m all for open borders, but that only applies to people, not wild animals and plants.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemlock_woolly_adelgid

  18. how bout hiring a CARP-enter to build these things.

  19. Just close the damned canal. The total losses from the carp invasion will be far higher than those from the closure of the canal. I’m all for killing & eating as many of the things as possible, but the fact is that Americans don’t like carp.

    BTW, the Asian bighead carp was apparently introduced by a government program.

  20. Door bell just rang. It was a young lady representing Environment Illinois or something like that. She wanted my signature to get Congress to act on saving our beautiful lake. She did specifically mention the Asian carp. Told her I was something of an anarchist, don’t vote, hate politics, the violent inherent in the system, etc.

  21. The Party Line is apparently unanimous in favor of invasive species.

    1. That depends on how they taste.

  22. Well, it’s about time Reason finally covered this danger to our waterways, albeit in a flippant and unserious fashion. Reason and its open-canals donors will find a way to cherry-pick data no matter how badly lakes in Asia are doing these days, which is a preview of what can happen to the largest source of fresh water in the world if we don’t act now.

    A skeptical mind would ask who benefits by the Illinois & Michigan Canal being left open, and more importantly whose ears they have access too. All it takes is a cheap video camera and a YouTube account and you can help keep the Great Lakes free for the native carp.

    1. You forgot to add: “P.S. In case anyone replies to this, their responses will almost assuredly be ad homs, thereby conceding my points and showing the childish, anti-intellectual nature of libertarians.”

  23. Why on earth wasn’t the headline a pun on carpe diem?

  24. You BRUTES! Carps are people too! 😉

  25. What is the argument here? every single alien “BROKE THE LAW!” Our Government, has allowed the invasion of 20 to 30 million criminals which is the largest invasion of any Nation, at any time, in direct violation of Article IV, Section IV of our Constitution. They allow the invasion, they force American tax payers to pay Billions of dollars to provide Welfare, Prison cells, Educate the invaders children, free medical care, the invaders break numerous laws,massive document fraud, & are destroying our schools, hospitals, communities, culture & standard of living while Robbing, Raping, Killing & Assaulting American Citizens WAKE UP PEOPLE!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..r_embedded
    http://immigrationcounters.com/

    1. IgnorantNativistBot is Ignorant.

    2. It turns out that carp are smarter than dolphins. Who knew?

  26. Look out that window Highnumber later this afternoon and you may see our little boat passing by. Yeah we a little late from yard to harbor.
    *sheepish*

  27. BTW they’ve been finding bighead but it’s the silver that does the jumping thing. Different species. No silver (or even teh DNA) have been found above the barrier.

    The hype bout this is just that. These are voracious river filter feeders, the great lakes will be deserts for them. Plus their main competition might just be the zebra and quagga mussels. Not their niche at all.

    Finally for all the dire predictions bighead have been IN Lake Erie since 1995. They’ve caught the occasional individual both on the US and Canadian side. They’ve had 15 years already to take over the smallest, shallowest most eutrophic of the great lakes and they haven’t.
    Eire is connected to Huron/Michigan by a big river, it’s too late anyways.
    Much ado about nothing.

  28. Wow, I thought I was a libertarian. Is that now incompatible with preserving ecosystems from invasive non-native species? Just because the feds continue to waste money and fuck up the whole process doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthy goal. It just means the feds are fucking idiots. And are rents and externalities no longer perceived as unjust?

    You know, they hunt plenty of rabbits in Australia, and they may even eat them, but that doesn’t solve the problem.

    If you want to write snarky commentary, why don’t you ask why the Chicago locks are staying open when Chicago politicians are running the country? If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might even go so far as to suppose that the Great Lakes are being destroyed on purpose so the high-population arid states to the South and West will be able to take all the fresh water when it’s no longer needed for recreation and commerce.

    Very disappointing blog entry.

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