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Asian Carp Processing Plant to be Built in Illinois

Sustainability Processing Economics +7 more

US - Local investors are planning a plant in southwestern Illinois to process Asian carp, an invasive species that poses a threat to stocks of native fish in particular in the Great Lakes.

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Investors and their business partners on Thursday are expected to announce plans to build the site in Grafton, population about 700, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, reports

Mayor Tom Thompson said the development by the local investment group, American Heartland Fish Products, could mean about 35 jobs and a market for area fishermen.

The plant, expected to be on a blufftop site the city has rezoned and annexed, also could help control the populations of silver carp and bighead carp, species from Asia that increasingly have crowded out more popular fish in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

Asian carp were imported decades ago to clear fish ponds and sewage treatment lagoons of unwanted vegetation or grubs. The giant fish can leap from the water when startled, potentially injuring fishermen, other boaters and water skiers.

Bighead and silver carp have migrated up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and are poised to invade the Great Lakes, where scientists say they could out-compete native fish for food. The federal government has spent more than $100 million on an electric barrier and other steps to keep them out.

Bighead and silver carp are a particularly serious threat because they eat plankton microscopic plants and animals that are essential components of aquatic food webs.

The investors in the Grafton project have said the carp are popular among Asian consumers, but because many Asian waterways are highly polluted there is a high level of demand for carp caught in US waters. They also expect the fish to become popular with American consumers.