Food safety is usually about the bacteria or viruses that might get into your system from something you ate or drank.
But if you want to take the boat out and put some Asian carp on the dinner table, the best food safety protection can be a helmet and a baseball bat. Asian carp come flying out of the water with enough force to kill someone, and they’ve cut, scraped, and bruised many.
For 5 years, the Redneck Fishing Tournament on the Illinois River has fought back against this invasive species. Tournament players often use baseball bats on the monster carp that threaten the bass and catfish sportsmen favor.
Redneck Tournament participants hate Asian carp. They ruin sports fishing.
Now, the rednecks are getting some help. President Obama has named John Goss, a natural resource and wildlife leader from Indiana, as the nation’s carp czar to lead the defense of the Great Lakes and its $5 billion fishery from the carp that eats everything in its path.
The Asian carp is already in the Chicago River, and Czar Goss is charged with implementing an $80 million federal plan to keep carp from getting into Lake Michigan.
If that happens, an annual $1 billion commercial catch and a $4 billion sports fishing industry would be at risk as Asian carp would invade the entire Great Lakes system.
Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first sounded the alarm about the carp getting into Lake Michigan, some defenses have been erected. The locks and sluice gates on the O’Brien Lock and Dam and the Controlling Works–the mechanisms for keeping the Chicago River waters from Lake Michigan–are kept closed more often than not.
And the Army Corps of Engineers has a system of electric fish barriers in place.
Great Lakes states want Chicago to permanently close those links between the river and lake, but the commercial shippers and the businesses they serve say that is an over-reaction. Part of the new czar’s job will be to oversee several on-going studies into the next best move.
The Asian carp is not the only invasive species to use the route. The Zebra mussel, also an invader, moved from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi through Chicago’s canal system in the 1990s. Scientist say there are other fish and plant species that should not be allowed to make the jump.
The aggressive eating carp, however, is now getting all the attention. The states are trying to get their way in federal court with some scientists saying the Great Lakes are under threat of invasion, and others saying the carp probably could not maintain a large enough population for such expansive waters.
“When it comes to the Asian carp threat, we are not in denial,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, says. He said the goal is to “stop the carp from advancing.”
There was a time not so long ago that Chicago’s canals were so polluted that no aquatic species could survive those waters. Invasive species problems have come with Chicago’s success at cleaning up its waters.