I knew Asian carp have a bounty being paid out if you could get in good with the authorities but what I didn’t know was how lucrative the regular market is. Apparently some Chinese processors are paying up to 90 cents a pound:
Government-funded carp-catchers represent only a fraction of the 350 or so active commercial fishing licenses in Illinois, but they’re making a dent in the invasion. In 2011, the program netted 700,000 pounds of carp, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The tally is already 120,000 pounds and counting in the first two months this year.
But with some processors paying about 12 cents per pound for Asian carp and some Chinese wholesalers paying more than 90 cents, Department of Natural Resources officials say they hope the best long-term weapon against the fish will be the free market.
For third-generation fisherman Orion Briney, 53, there’s little need for a government bounty to make him chase the fish. On a recent afternoon, he calculated he’d pulled in 53,000 pounds of Asian carp in four days, adding, “And we’re getting ready to go out again tomorrow.”
Since Asian carp first hit the rivers around his hometown of Browning, Ill., about 10 years ago, Briney said, he gradually began to shift his business from the Buffalo fish his father once chased to the new invaders. “I just saw it coming,” he said.
Nowadays, ask Briney how big a part of his operation Asian carp have become, and there’s no hesitation.
“All of it,” he said.
Yowza! Off course you need to have a commercial operation to really take advantage of this but if you’re basically making a cool half a million dollars in four days I’m sure it’s worth the trouble to start one up. But even the government contracts aren’t bad:
In America’s war on carp, part of the “navy” is 10 commercial fishing teams paid by the government to catch as many of the invaders as they can. Shawn Price, 35, who has a 13-week contract this year to net Asian carp for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is paid $6,300 per week. After subtracting gas, motel and other expenses, he and his fishing partner split the profits.
Under the direction of state biologists, the government-funded teams drop gill nets as long as football fields along the river. Fishermen herd the carp by making noise, slapping the water with plungers or revving outboard motors until as many fish as possible become entangled in the nets.
Full nets are then hauled aboard and native species are thrown back, leaving a pile of enormous, flopping carp, oozing torrents of blood and fishy slime under stress. “It’s a stinky, bloody business, but it sure is fun,” Price said.
Not a bad way to make a living in this economy. I might drop writing and buy myself a little commercial fisher.