WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - There is proof Asian carp have invaded the Wabash River in the Lafayette, Indiana area and farther north, but what can be done to keep them from potentially taking over and even getting to the Great Lakes?
Just about 70 miles south of Lafayette on the Wabash River, fisherman Brendan Kearns caught a glimpse of what could be the near-future in Tippecanoe County. He shot video of hundreds of silver Asian carp jumping out of the river near Montezuma, Indiana.
Purdue Assistant Professor of Aquatic Community Ecology Reuben Goforth said it may only be a matter of time before we go from seeing only a few silver Asian carp jump out of the water in the Lafayette-area to seeing hundreds.
"It's probably coming. That's not a guarantee, but it's probably coming," Goforth said.
He believes the fish are leap-frogging up the river as they reproduce.
Goforth said one way to keep their numbers from growing is to try to attack the Asian carp before they can mature.
"One possibility is to look at trying to control them at the egg stage, or the embryo stage, and basically use physical measures to try to disrupt their development," Goforth said.
Another Purdue researcher hopes to put the existing population of adult Asian carp to good use.
Assistant Professor of Food Science Andrea Liceaga and her graduate students are trying to find ways to use the meat and proteins from the fish.
"We're trying to develop approaches to increase the commercial value of an underutilized fish - to use this product that is being discarded, obtain a valuable product out of it, which is what we call the fish protein hydrolysates, and use those hydrolysates as either ingredients in the industry or as bioactive agents that could have some health benefits at the end of the road," Liceaga said.
In the meantime, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plans to use a temporary barrier fence in Eagle Marsh near Fort Wayne to stop the possibility of Asian carp working their way to Lake Erie during heavy flooding.
But what can the rest of us do to help?
One way fishermen can help stop the migration of these fish is through their bait buckets. Never release baitfish from one body of water into another.
"Because even experts have a hard time distinguishing between juvenile Asian carp and some of our native minnows," Goforth said.
Conservation Officer Matt Tholen said never practice catch-and-release with Asian carp.
"Throw it on the bank. Get rid of it. Do not throw it back in the water alive," Tholen said.
Goforth and Liceaga also are touting many other possibilities to utilize an otherwise unwanted fish.
Goforth said Asian carp could be used for their fish oil, as fertilizer, or even as food.
Liceaga said the fillet from an Asian carp, although bony, is a very quality cut of meat which is considered a delicacy in other parts of the world.
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