Letter: Asian carp are good to eat, low on fat and contaminants

The best plan to deal with them when they get in the Great Lakes will be to eat them

To the Expositor:

Asian carp definitely have the potential to devastate the Great Lakes, thanks to the not-so-brilliant American idea of seeding this foreign species for “aquatic vegetation control” in various southern states. “They grow very large very quickly with huge appetites to match and easily outcompete native species for food and resources.”

Due to flooding, they escaped into the Mississippi basin 10 years ago and have now made their way into Lake Michigan. Kudos to Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Lori Thompson for her well-researched article ‘Warming temperatures, increased precipitation could help invasive Asian carp establish in Great Lakes.’ 

As this invasive species has no natural predator and due to how quickly they grow, the best solution to controlling them, as they expand into Lake Huron, is to eat them. Americans are discovering that all four species of Asian carp—bighead, black, grass and silver—are exciting for sport fishing and delicious. Even if eating them is a stretch, these fish could be used to create an excellent organic fertilizer, definitely a cheaper and safer alternative to toxic chemical fertilizers. Fish fertilizers are an all-natural way to supply an abundance of minerals and vitamins to your plants, whether you are growing: roses, vegetables, fruits, ferns or even houseplants. There are three types of fish fertilizer: fish meal, fish emulsion and hydrolyzed fish fertilizer. Each of these has specific benefits for your plants and is a rich source of concentrated nutrients.

For the record, Asian carp of all types have white, firm, mild flesh, which is excellent table fare. Asian carp do have large intramuscular bones, that many people find undesirable. However, there are elegant ways to fillet those bones, clearly explained in videos on YouTube. Asian carp feed low on the food web, are low in fat and as they are filter feeders, not bottom feeders, they are lower in contaminants. They look like salmon and taste like cod without the risks of methyl mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins, hexavalent chromium and arsenic. As they spoil quickly, it’s important to gut them right away, then put them on ice. 

Derek Stephen McPhail