Tuesday, July 13, 2010

IL To Assist Companies In Marketing Asian Carp "Delicacy"

Jul 13: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced a new initiative to stop the spread of invasive Asian carp species into the Great Lakes. He said Illinois is entering into a public-private partnership that will reduce Asian carp populations where they have been discovered in Illinois waters. In a release he indicated that, "This first-of-its-kind partnership will help enhance the commercial fishing industry, create approximately 180 jobs and relieve pressure on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Electric Barrier System designed to stop fish from moving further towards Lake Michigan."
    He said, "Protecting the Great Lakes is vital to millions of people from Illinois and throughout the Midwest who rely on these waterways for their livelihoods. Today's agreement is one of the most aggressive efforts to address the Asian carp problem, and is a critical step to long-term economic sustainability and the success of the commercial fishing industry." He said Illinois is entering into an agreement with Chinese meat processing company Beijing Zhuochen Animal Husbandry Company and Big River Fisheries located in Pearl, IL to harvest 30 million pounds of carp from Illinois rivers. Big River will process, package and ship the fish to Zhuochen for resale in international markets where the fish is a delicacy. The company is expected to harvest at least 30 million pounds of fish for the purpose of this agreement by the end of 2011.
    The State, through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will invest $2 million in capital funds to help Big River retrofit its existing facility, increase its processing capacity and expand to new production facilities in Pittsfield, which will create 61 new jobs and 120 indirect jobs. Commercial fishermen, contracted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, have already started removing Asian carp in the Illinois River where populations exist.
    Liang Chang, Chairman, Beijing Zhuochen Animal Husbandry said, "The high quality and taste of the wild Asian carp from Big River Fish far exceeded our expectations. We see a tremendous market in China for the wild Asian carp. As Big River Fish's production capacity increases, we will be able to expand our marketing efforts in China." Rick Smith, President, Big River Fish Corp. said, "Big River Fish can now retrofit and expand its facilities to meet our production commitment to Zhuochen. The Asian carp can become an economic engine for Illinois rather than a threat, and we thank Governor Quinn for his support of our efforts."
    In a related matter the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water and Power, Chaired by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), has scheduled an oversight hearing to examine the Federal response to the discovery of the aquatic invasive species Asian carp in Lake Calumet, Illinois, for Wednesday, July 14, at 3:30 PM (See link below). Witnesses will include: Nancy Sutley, White House Council on Environmental Quality; Dr. Leon Carl, United States Geological Survey; John Rogner, Assistant Director, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; and Tim Eder, Executive Director, Great Lakes Commission.
    Access a release from the IL Governor (click here). Access the Asian Carp control website (click here). Access the Subcommittee on Water and Power website for links to testimony when it is posted (click here).