FILE - Asian Carp

Asian carp, jolted by an electric current from a research boat, jump from the Illinois River near Havana, Ill.

(The Center Square) – An East Peoria business is on a mission to reduce the threat of the invasive Asian carp in the Illinois River and offer up a healthy meal. 

Asian carp were imported by Arkansas fish farmers in the 1970s to control plankton in rearing ponds. However, during floods the carp escaped captivity and began reproducing in the wild, developing large populations in the early 1980s. They eventually moved northward to Illinois. Now fishermen say there are hundreds of millions of pounds of Asian carp, which damages the ecosystem of the Illinois River.

Roy Sorce, owner of Sorce Enterprises, has teamed up with the Midwest Fishing Co-op to reduce the numbers of the fish and put another protein on the dinner table.

“We are talking about 15 to 20 million pounds a year and that would help reduce the numbers and also less risk of them getting to the Great Lakes,” Sorce said.

Sorce recently received approval to quickly freeze harvested fish from the river for shipment to processing facilities. The minced, still-frozen fish are then returned to his business for storage and eventual sale.

The idea of serving Asian carp from the Illinois River at the dinner table is not a new one, but previous efforts to convince people to partake have failed to gain widespread appeal. The carp is  a familiar staple in many foreign countries.

Sorce said Asian carp is low on contaminants and one of the healthiest fish available.

“It is very tasty. It has no fishy taste to it. If you eat salmon or tuna, you taste that. With this, you only taste what you put in there,” Sorce said.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.