'Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em' project to eradicate Asian carp - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

'Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em' project to eradicate Asian carp

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The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is supporting Silverfin™ Group, Inc., headed by Chef Philippe Parola, in its history-making effort to process the first invasive species into a value-added product for human consumption.

The product, fish cakes called Silverfin (also known as Asian carp), was on display at a recent product launch press conference at the University of Illinois. Chef Parola and Dr. Dawn Aubrey, Food Service Director for the University of Illinois, spearheaded the event. The product will be distributed nationally, primarily by SYSCO food distributors. 

LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet and Bill Sherman from the Louisiana Lt. Gov.'s Office were guest speakers. Other attending the event were Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, Illinois Chief of Fisheries Dan Stephenson and University of Illinois Chancellor Dr. Robert J. Jones. 

Chef Philippe selected Illinois as the jump-start to launch his Silverfin™ fish products because of the serious problems the state is having with Asian carp.

Asian carp have also invaded Louisiana waterways, including Lake Pontchartrain, Vermillion Bay, Lake Verret and many of Louisiana's rivers, canals and bayous. Asian carp can tolerate low salinity environments and therefore are a threat to our recreational and commercial fisheries throughout Louisiana. 

Asian carp can weigh up to 100 pounds. They eat large amounts of plankton each day.  Plankton is the base of the food chain for all aquatic life. So many Asian carp eating so much plankton daily will inevitably displace native aquatic species such as fish, frogs, crustaceans, mollusks and vegetation. 

"We see this effort by Chef Parola as a means of limiting the expansion of this unwanted species in the waterways of Louisiana,'' Montoucet said. "If it can be turned into jobs for Louisiana while at the same time fighting the growth of the species, then it is a win-win for us.

"However, LDWF's primary goal continues to be eradication of all destructive invasive species in Louisiana."

Parola said, "Silverfin, or Asian carp, are natural proteins and a good source of vitamin B12, Omega-3 and many other healthy nutrients,'' Parola said. "There is no better time to introduce a new and healthy domestic wild-caught fish product on American dining table, especially when the entire world is facing a wild-caught exhaustible commercial fisheries that now includes the popular Atlantic cod."

"Those Asian Carp cooked into Silverfin fish cakes surely won't reproduce anymore," Dr. Dawn Aubrey said.  

Asian carp are known for jumping out of the water in large quantities when the water is agitated by boat motors. Due to their size and quantity, these jumping carp are extremely dangerous to boaters and water sports enthusiasts. Many injuries and a few fatalities have been blamed on Asian carp jumping out of the water. This threat is so severe that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has warned that collisions between boaters and jumping carp can potentially cause human fatalities. 

The Asian carp population in the Mississippi River Basin is growing fast and virtually unstoppable. An adult female Asian carp can spawn more than 1 million eggs per year with up to 80 percent of those eggs hatching and surviving. In the rivers of the northern states of the Mississippi River Basin, including Illinois, studies show that there are 35 tons of Asian carp per river mile.  Another 10-15 years of non-action, will put Louisiana in a similar situation.

Working closely with LDWF and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Silverfin™ Group's "Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em" project will make eating this invasive fish a reality. Silverfin™ Group's solution is to commercially harvest Asian carp, branded as Silverfin™, process it into Silverfin™ Fish Cakes, a value-added fish product for human consumption, and distribute it nationally, with SYSCO as the first primary distributor, to institutional food marketplaces such as restaurants, caterers and colleges/universities. 

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