Alderman: Feed Asian Carp to the Poor

Bony fish could be ground up for fish cakes

By Ivanna Hampton
|  Thursday, Apr 8, 2010  |  Updated 9:08 AM CDT
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Killer Carp In Hiding

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The invasive Asian carp can grow up to 100 pounds and more than 4 feet long.

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One Chicago Alderman is throwing out his fishing line to eradicate the Asian Carp.

Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th, proposed during Wednesday's City Council meeting to catch invasive fish, debone it and serve it to the hungry, the Sun-Times reports.

"People talk about it's so terrible and I'm like, 'Wow! That's a lot of fish.' ... It seems to me that God gave us some more food," said Burnett with no hint of sarcasm.

But could the idea catch on?

Debra Karr, executive vice-president of strategy for the Shedd Aquarium, thinks that farming the fish could extinguish a nuisance.

"If we create a commercial and economic driver to harvest them, [it could] help us eliminate them," she said.

But Karr, who dined on Asian Carp describing it as tasting fine but really boney, reeled back wild fish dreams.

"If you create a market for something, then people start to make more of it and we really want to get rid of it, Karr said. "It's a little bit of a controversial issue."

Big River Fish, an Illinois company, is planning to export 30 million pounds of the ecosystem-killing fish back to China where it originated hoping to import $20 million a year. Ross Harano, the company's owner, said buyers in China's mouths watered over the quality of the Asian carp swimming in the Illinois River.

Several Great Lakes states are asking the Supreme Court to force Illinois to close the Chicago River to prevent the invasive fish from entering the fresh water supply.

A recent Illinois Chamber of Commerce report found shutting down the tourist draw would cost the Chicago area $531 million annually and $4.7 billion over 20 years.   

Some Chicagoans looking at the fishy delicacy may be reluctant to taste it.

"I have Wallace's Catfish in the ward and that's enough," said Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd.

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