carp (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Chicago’s Plan to Combat Carp

Alternate proposal: Eat the fish to extinction


This winter, Americans from Traverse City to New Orleans have discussed the spread of the Asian carp, a particularly invasive species of fish quickly overtaking the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. The carp boom seems unstoppable—but not if Chicago can help it.

According to a BBC report, the Windy City is contemplating extreme measures to reduce, or even eliminate, the carp population. The primary proposal? Block the city’s famous canals in an $18 billion effort to keep out the fish.

The initiative could severely hinder the city’s economy, but proponents think the alternative could be far worse. The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s freshwater, so a carp infestation could seriously influence global commerce.

The idea has some legitimate backing: Representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talked about the plan, which could take 25 years to complete, at a meeting prompted by requests from Congress and the White House to develop a technological solution to the problem.

“There are 9.1 million people in Chicago and over a period of 100 years that canal has been there and the economic impact is considerable,” said Col. Frederick Drummond, outlining the proposal’s challenges.

Government officials worry that permanent canal barriers could greatly increase the cost of transportation for shipments in the Great Lakes region, in turn making raw materials and finished goods more expensive.

That’s where another proposal—not endorsed by the Corps of Engineers—comes in. In a carnivorous masterstroke, some residents have suggested simply eating the fish into extinction. This would be a huge boon for Dirk Fucik, the only person in Chicago who cooks and sells carp burgers.

“To catch it and throw it away is a waste,” Fucik told the BBC. “Eating them helps solve the problem and also provides jobs.”

Americans originally released Asian carp into Southern waterways three decades ago to control algae in sewage treatment plants. But the fish, which measure more than three feet long, spread quickly.

Of course, another strategy could be to invite carp hunters to the Windy City—these fishermen have taken controlling the fish population into their own hands. Extreme aerial bow fishers drive boats through carp-infested waters, riling up the fish so they jump out of the water, only to be greeted by an assault of arrows mercilessly shot from crossbows. Then there’s this guy, who rode on waterskis, armed with a trash-can suit of armor and a sword. Yeah, we aren’t sure either:

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto