March 26, 2006

Let them eat carp!

SPRINGFIELD — Asian carp clogging Illinois rivers could be used to feed inmates and the starving under a proposal being championed by one lawmaker.

Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, called on his fellow lawmakers Friday to earmark $750,000 in state funds to market the voracious, non-native species that can grow up to 100 pounds and crowd out other fish.

“At the end of the day, I think this is going to be a way for us to turn a really terrible problem into a really positive solution,” he said.

The money, which could be included in the state’s next budget plan, would be used to help companies reduce the population of the nuisance fish. Once harvested, the fish could be transformed into plant fertilizer or used to provide a cheap food source for prisoners and the poor worldwide, Jacobs said.

Schafer Fisheries, located in Thomson, Ill., markets about 2 million pounds of Asian carp a year, company president Mike Schafer said.

Schafer said he sells most of his product to Asian communities in the United States.

Carp’s reputation as a dirty fish is unfounded, he said.

“The only country in the whole world that has problem with carp is the United States,” he said. “Carp is a good eating fish. Smoked carp, in my opinion, is better than salmon.“

[Didn't they serve carp at the Blue Ribbon?]

Shaefer's is already marketing millions of pounds of carp. Rather than trying to expand the market themselves, they have their state senator attempt to A. Give them $750,000 (possibly 1.65 million) taxpayer dollars, and B. help them land an huge market selling their carp to the state.

[Slogans? "Carp, it's not just for breakfast anymore", "Carp, the OTHER oily, bony fish", "Carp, the new Salmon", "Got Carp?", or "Carp, it's what's for dinner.... if you're starving or in prison"

Faced with the real problem of carp infestation, their solution is selling it to the state who then in turn is expected to feed it to the only two groups in the state which don't have any choice in the matter.

Prisoners for one. who have absolutely no choice but to eat it or go hungry. Boy, talk about a captive market! (It may be struck down on cruel and unusual punishment grounds. And though they're already nighmarish hell-holes, might carp in prisons serve as a deterent to would-be criminals?)

And let's see. Is there another group the state spends funds on where the consumer really has no choice in the matter? Well of course, the starving. "Eat this stuff or die." is one hell of a convincing marketing tool. (though some might have to think it over.)

I'll have to talk to the senator about my idea for a mole meat processing facility. (it tastes like chicken) A million or so from the state for marketing to convince people that mole isn't really that bad, and a contract selling the high protein meat to school lunch programs statewide and I'm set. Fat City here I come!! It will create mole processing jobs and cut down on the destruction this pesky mammal does to yards across Illinois, not to mention being a boost to the depressed mole hunting sector. Perfect justifications. The voters will love it. Win/win any way you look at it.

But seriously folks...

An article from late November of last year reported on Jacobs' "novel idea" stated,

Jacobs says that when the legislative session opens in January, he will propose a public-private venture and request 900 thousand dollars in state funds for Schafer's Fisheries, the largest wholesale fish supplier in the Midwest.

Is this new proposal an additional $750,000 giveaway, bringing the state largesse to the fish company to a cool 1.65 million? Or simply a scale-back and repackaging of the old proposal??

Positives to the measure can be assumed to be that this might contribute to slowing down the rapid spread of the carp, and of course, the usual promise of more jobs for the company located in the northern part of the 36th district. There would also be a boon to those who want to fish for these wily and crazed fish, who reach around 100 lbs and leap missle-like out of the water at the slightest disturbance. And one of the most diabolical aspects of them is that they won't bite on a hook! I have no idea how they're planning on harvesting them unless by extensive netting or some sort of trapping.

But how much would this cost per job? For that matter, how many new jobs will be created?

Sen. Jacobs did say it would be "a really positive solution". Was that a figure of speech or is this really expected to solve the carp problem? (or even come close) Are there any solid studies or data to suggest that this infusion of money into a commerical enterprise will even make a noticable dent in the wildly exploding carp population, much less solve it? Will it have any effect at all in preventing it's rapid and inevitable spread? Though it's held out as a measure to combat the serious carp problem, will it really have any noticable effect whatsoever?

And of course there's the issue of how much the state would end up paying for this carp. The Shaeffer's official assures us that smoked carp tastes as good as salmon. After all is said and done, would the carp end up costing the state as much as salmon too?

We simply don't know. But presumably Sen. Jacobs has looked into all these vital questions. After all, you certainly wouldn't propose such a plan without knowing the answers to at least those fundamental questions. He might be forthcoming at some point in the future.

Perhaps I'm being too cynical. Tell me why this is the wisest and most efficient use of state funds in dealing with the real problem of Asian carp and their spread.

Or is it stupid of me to even care? After all, I would't want to have to answer all those questions about my mole meat proposal.

Obviously, there remains a lot of unanswered questions which makes it hard to have an informed opinion. Hopefully, these answers can be expected to be found out in due time.

One that seems crucial and which wasn't addressed in the latest article is whether this is additional money or simply a scale-back of the original proposal? Does anyone know?

What's your thoughts on the matter?


At 3/26/2006 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you love these carp and want them to take over our waterways? Why, they are a menace.

At 3/26/2006 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOUR Tax Dollars at work! I can see a "feeding frenzy" over this! I wonder if they will work for "scale"? Sounds like a "fishing expedition" to me.

At 3/26/2006 9:39 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

anon 9:17...

hahaha!! That's pretty funny. You've learned from the right wing very well.

That's the old "If someone is critical of the administration or the war, just ask why they "hate America" trick.

Obviously, I not only don't love carp, I hate them.... other than catching them... they're great to catch as they're often huge and they fight like hell.

As I've said more than once in the post and in previous posts on the subject, the Asian carp is a menace and a real threat to the health and well-being of our rivers, and in particular to the Great Lakes themselves if they are successful in reaching them.

What I'm not so sure of is whether Sen. Jacobs and Sheaffer's are just using this convenient problem to gouge taxpayers for a LOT of money when the end result will be a huge amount of profit for a private company with the help of public funds, and not a hell of a lot of good being done to help with the carp problem.

Thanks for asking.

What do you think about it? We all know they're a menace. But is throwing around a million cool ones at a fish processor the right way to go about dealing with the crisis?

At 3/26/2006 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Rather than "carp" why not take a jaunt to Schaffers and see the problem for yourself. Once you better understand the ecological threat, you'll be situated to pontificate with clarity.

At this time you are woefully uninformed and unaware of the nature of this growing problem, and better understand why governmental action is needed and required.

Even if you end up disagreeing with Sen. Jacobs unique plan it will do you good to get out of the house and away from the computer.

Hope this help!

Enjoy the trip.

At 3/26/2006 12:53 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Thanks for the helpful suggestion, but no thanks.

It's not necessary to visit some fish processing plant to understand the scope and nature of this threat. I've read extensively about it and have a complete understanding of what's going on, what the threat is, the problems involved, and everything there is to know about the carp themeselves, their breeding behavior, feeding habits, and the effect they have on river habitat.

So don't try to suggest I don't know about or understand the problem. I do. I could probably teach you a thing or two about it.

Byt nice shot.

Since you apparently feel you're in a position to tell me I am uninformed about this, perhaps you could do us all a favor?

There are some things I definitely don't know, and that's the answers to the questions raised in the post.

They're all serious questions and questions which need to be answered before anyone can judge whether this proposal is good or bad.

Since you apparently are so well informed about this issue, why don't you do us all a favor and answer a few of them??

That would actually be helpful.

Rather than spending you time imagining what I know or don't know, why don't you tell us what the we need to know in order to make an informed judgement as to whether this proposal makes any sense at all?

For instance, something basic like is this $750,000 on top of the $900,000 Jacobs proposed before? And if not, why did the amount change?

Rather than responding by saying I don't know anything, and then not providing one bit of information yourself, why not share your vast knowledge of the subject with us all? If it's a good idea, obviously the facts would support it.

And did I say government action isn't needed or required? Since you appear confused, the answer is no.

Am I highly skeptical that having government throw wads of money at a private fish processing company will make a damn bit of difference in the problem? Yes.

Am I wondering if this is the most effective and rational way for state taxpayers to address the problem? Absolutely. Until the questions asked in the story have been answered, there's simply no way to tell.

And thanks for your concern that i get out of the house. But I'm out of the house at the moment and I wish I could be home more often.

Thanks anyway, but I'm not quite sure what how much time I spend away from the house has to do with Asian carp.


At 3/26/2006 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone else see Keifer Sutherland on Jimmy Kimmel show friday night. His band Roco DeLuca was on the show also. He talked all about Jude Cole and his relationship. Their record company and label Watertown records. He also gave a victory shout out to Mike Jacobs. Rocco was great. He played two songs that were dynamite. Go out and buy the album it is awsome.

At 3/26/2006 2:33 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

anon above..

Did Sutherland say anything about Asian carp? Otherwise, your comment is completely out of place and off-topic.

I'll let it by this time.

At 3/27/2006 12:07 AM, Blogger tiz said...

Only in the QC would feeding carp to prisoners and people seeing the virgin mary at Harold's be the top two stories in the Saturday newspaper.

While he's at it, Mikey should try tying his carp into the WIC and Illinois LINK programs. Or maybe give free carp to those living on what he deemed undesirable real estate out by the hog plant. "Bummer your house smells like pig ass, here's some cheap CARP - vote for Mike".

Or better yet, I'm sure it could help our war budget out. Jacobs and Schafer should team with Halliburton to provide our soldiers with carp.

Seriously though - when I was down in Louisiana a while back I saw how they handled their nutria problem - with a bounty. People were free to eat or do whatever with them as long as they brought in the tails for cash. That seems to be a more direct and more "democratic" way of dealing with such a problem.

At 3/27/2006 4:41 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

That's not a bad idea. I'm sure there's plenty of good 'ol boys who'd love to have an excuse to get out on the river and make some beer money to boot.

And I recall an episode of Dave Attell's Insomniac where he rode along with city officials somewhere down south on a nutria thinning hunt.

The "sniper" sat in a lawnchair in the bed of a pickup while another guy drove along the street next to a drainage canal. They had a search light and every time they'd light one up, the guy in the back picked it off. They were getting dozens of them. And they went out every night. That was their city job.

At 3/27/2006 9:28 AM, Blogger highxlr8r said...

I am comfortable EITHER with giving the business money up front, and having that fishery provide the state with FREE carp (up to a particular limit roughly equalling the grant), OR paying the business nothing up front but making a commitment to buy a certain amount of carp once it is harvested.

The proposal here, however, seems to be give away money to this company, and then after the carp is caught, the state will shell out more money to buy the carp. I agree with the Dope that this might not be the most efficient use of taxpayer money.

I would appreciate more information on this deal, which unfortunately, will likely not be provided by the newspapers.

At 3/27/2006 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You might want to be at the Capitol on the 28th. I hear Sen. Jacobs is joining with envirometalist, boaters, fishermen, and high ranking DNR officials to inform unsuspecting citizens what Asian Carp are doing to our rivers and streams.

Some people say this issue will propel Jacobs into leadership of Illinois' growing environmental movement.

Jacobs boundless energy amazes me. Bydler had to take a weeks vacation after the campaign to recover.

Not Big Mike Jacobs, he keeps goig and going. Whoever said, "Victorty wears a person out," never met Mike Jacobs. This fast moving achiever is on the go!

At 3/27/2006 1:58 PM, Anonymous No money down said...

Amazing. Who writes this stuff?

They should write for one of those late night "infomercials".

At 3/27/2006 2:20 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Oh yeah... I would gladly drive 2 1/2 hours to see that presser.

Wouldn't miss it for the world.

At 3/27/2006 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will you have your shiny suit on

At 3/28/2006 4:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not Big Mike Jacobs, he keeps goig and going. Whoever said, "Victorty wears a person out," never met Mike Jacobs. This fast moving achiever is on the go!"

The spin from this is making me nauseated! Sort of reminds me of the "goig" show! Or was that the GONG show? Anybody know what "Victorty" means?

At 3/28/2006 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These carp are a menace and if there is no incentive for a public firm to rid the river of them then it will be the government doing it. In a day of outsourcing from government to private I would think people would be for this plan.

At 3/28/2006 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if you spotted Glen Poshard, President of Southern Illinois University and former congressman and state senator, saying that rail traffic is the way to go for our future. Someone else is going for Mike Jacobs idea of trains to downstate cities.

At 3/28/2006 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realy thought that this jacobs was on target with this train thing. I hope that we get the first new train.

At 3/30/2006 12:00 PM, Anonymous read this said...

At 3/30/2006 1:13 PM, Anonymous Duane Chapman said...

Quote: "And one of the most diabolical aspects of them is that they won't bite on a hook! I have no idea how they're planning on harvesting them unless by extensive netting or some sort of trapping." Netting would be the way it would be done. Using trammel nets and a method I used to drive the fish into the nets (also employed by commercial fishermen who wish to catch these fish)in the Missouri River approximately 2/3 of the fish I catch are Asian carps. Most of the rest are common carp and buffalo, which are also legally harvested with nets. Approximately 2% of the fish I catch with this gear, by number, are non-commercial. By weight the number would be much lower, because the carp are large. The point being, extensive netting may not be a bad thing.

Minor point, for accuracy's sake: The size that these fish can reach has been overestimated in the media time and again. I often hear max weights of well over a hundred pounds for both silver and bighead carp, and despite a very hard search, I have never been able to verify a fish of over a hundred (at least for silver and bighead - black carp, which are not yet thought to be established in the USA but might soon be, do get over 200 pounds). The statement in the OP was not incorrect- both species do reach near a hundred pounds - but it is extremely rare that they do so. Bigheads of over 40 pounds are very uncommon (in four years of intensive study I have seen two) and silvers over 25 pounds (I've seen one)are very uncommon.

Lastly, I'd like to comment on the edibility of these fish. They are great eating. These fish are NOT common carp, which are edible if you really work on it and you are not too picky. Bighead, silver, black, and grass carp are all excellent eating. It is not punishment to eat one. My crew and my family and I eat them all the time and we enjoy them immensely. You do have to deal with the bones, which the proposed machinery would do (although I must admit that I do not know what the machinery would do to the edibility of the product). For information on another way to deal with the bones, see my article at

I do think that eventually the market for these fish will pick up, but it is very hard to get a market started for a new species of fish, especially one with the name "carp". (You can't simply call it something else. There are laws.)

I do not know the details about Sen. Jacobs' proposal and this post should not be construed as a post either in favor of or against his proposal.

At 7/09/2007 1:24 PM, Blogger Alex said...

They have no natural predators in North America, except for predator number #1, MAN! Time to start eating!

At 6/18/2008 5:22 AM, Blogger hollis arkham said...

in 20 years the human body will equal corn +carp+ water and we'll all be COMPUTERS!!!

At 8/09/2008 6:46 PM, Blogger Colie Brice said...

Carp.. It's for dinner..

At 11/19/2008 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The state is never the solution. Fuck Sen. Jacobs. The real way of dealing with any eviromental issue is upholding property rights.

At 11/20/2008 9:43 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 7:16

Sorry, but I fail to see how property rights have anything to do with this at all.

Ya lost me.

At 7/20/2009 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

asian silver carp have just this year reached some of the creeks in indiana, i live close to big raccoon creek not far from the wabash river, we have an infestion of them this year, and you can catch them on a hook, they are about all i've been catching. think you'll see a new redneck hobby, drinking and catching carps. ton's of fun..

At 11/21/2009 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sorry, but I have lived and fished in Illinois for 50 years. But I wouldn't eat anything that came out of an Illinois river. To polluted.


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