Who Needs Tackle When Fish Can Jump Into The Boat?

li2-blog-img_150x175By Libby Yranski
Policy Fellow, American Sportfishing Association
August 9, 2013

You’ve seen the internet videos. Anglers using baseball bats, tennis rackets, or bows to kill flying Asian carp. These fish are everywhere and flying out of the water. I have even joked about taking a huge net and catching them from the air as I cruise by. But if you’re not careful these fish, that grow up to 40 lbs., can cause some serious damage as they fly towards you and crash into you or your gear. (Check out the video of the lady with the broken jaw.)

All kidding aside, most people don’t realize how detrimental these fish are to our recreational waters.  The biggest problem is that they have no known predators here in the U.S., and their growth rate is astronomical. They adapt. If they run out of room in a particular territory they move up or down stream and setup shop. They grow quickly. Asian carp grow to adult size within the year.

Their only limiting factor is nutrients. If there are no nutrients their growth slows down. Otherwise, flying Asian carp consume the yummy-nutrients and just keep growing, reproducing and spreading.

Deadly Take-Overs in About Three Years

One of the most frightening aspects is that within three years Asian carp can go from just a few fish to being over eighty percent of the biomass within a recreational fishery. If only recreational fisheries could grow that fast.

The word is slowly spreading about this overpopulation problem. New industries are sprouting up and trying to harvest and use these fish. But these are small.  Industries ranging from Gefilte fish to natural fertilizer.

Surprisingly, Asian markets actually enjoy the taste of “American” Asian carp over their natural carp. Could this be the cure? Or would it be too expensive to harvest and ship the fish back overseas? Here in the states, our taste buds have not developed a taste for carp sandwiches nor the patience to deal with their bones in our food. Instead, we’ve taken a different approach.

Can Carp Fishing Tournaments Be The Answer?

Commercial fishing tournaments are trying to curb down these fish but will that be enough? That’s the million dollar question. After talking to people on the waters who deal with these carp daily, the general consensus is no. That would be a monumental task to catch and kill all the carp.  It only takes a few to start the population problem. So if we were able to fish them down they’d be able to come right back. Both government and private industries are looking into a specialized chemical that only carp would digest as a way to curb the spread.

So What Can You Do?

Instead of taking matters into your own hands and trying to bat, hit, or harpoon one or two carps, contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (http://www.fws.gov/offices/statelinks.html). They can start tracking the carp and try to stop the spreading overpopulation. Asian carp are incredibly damaging to the recreational fisheries that we hold so near and dear to our hearts.  Take Action. Carp aren’t going to stop spreading if you just sit back and laugh at the videos.