For now, both candidates are focused on how the federal government can solve the problem – nothing will happen for at least another year because the Army Corps has until the end of 2013 to complete its study. Meanwhile, local and state governments, aided by fishing entrepreneurs and Chinese investors, are making headway on a lemons-to-lemonade-style solution: export the carp to China for service on dinner plates there.
This summer, the Illinois Department of Commerce provided $2 million toward building a new carp processing plant in Grafton, Ill., which is expected to employ 39 people and provide new opportunities for fishermen. That’s part of at least $10 million in state investments into the carp fishery in the past two years.
“We want to move these fish out of the river – and we’re going to attract people that have large boats and want to go out and work hard and bring in a lot of weight,” Ben Allen, owner of American Heartland Fish, told Michigan Public Radio this week. With the state’s help, Mr. Allen struck a deal with Chinese investors to ship tons of “wild-caught upper Mississippi carp” to Chinese food markets, where fresh, healthy carp are popular but difficult to find.