GRAFTON, Illinois — Scholars at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale are studying how to make U.S. wild-caught Asian carp freshly available to consumers in Asia.
The main goal is to figure out how to ship what's considered an invasive species in the American Midwest to China where it is a delicacy. The trick is to ship whole bodies of the fish on ice and flash-frozen thousands of miles because Asian consumers are used to buying fresh fish at open markets.
That process needs perfecting, said postdoctoral fellow Marybeth Brey with the university's Center for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences. She is working with the center's interim vice chancellor of research, Jim Garvey, who also is a fisheries professor.
They also are looking at the costs of exporting the fish, The (Alton) Telegraph reported (http://bit.ly/1tbkfdS ).
Export, import and tariffs charges are making the costs of shipping the fish too high to make a profit, Brey said.
"We are looking at how we relate this information to both U.S. and Chinese governments to make this an affordable process for everybody," she said. "It might be more of a logistics conversation, than doing something different."
Experts consider bighead and silver carp, which have migrated up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, a particularly serious threat because they eat plankton — microscopic plants and animals that are essential components of aquatic food webs. If they reach the Great Lakes, scientists say, carp could out-compete other fish for food and decimate the $7 billion-a-year fishing industry.
Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.thetelegraph.com