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?