Gov. Quinn strikes deal with China on carp

July 13, 2010 (CHICAGO) Governor Pat Quinn hopes Illinois will cash in on the invasive Asian carp and rid it from the Illinois River. He struck a deal with China in which an Illinois company will process the carp and ship them to China.

The governor says the new agreement with China will lead fishermen to harvest the fish before they reach the Great Lakes, create jobs, and help the local fishing industry. The new initiative costs $2 million in taxpayer money because capital funds will be given to a downstate company to process and ship the Asian carp to china.

"If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em," said Gov. Quinn.

Quinn wants Illinoisans to fish out the carp. He signed an agreement to export 30 million pounds of the Asian carp a year to China. While the fish is too boney for most American tastes, it's popular in China.

"You don't steam it. You pan fry it or deep fry it," said Eddy Cheung, Phoenix Restaurant.

Asian carp is not on the menu at Phoenix Restaurant in Chinatown, but owner Eddy Cheung said there is a big appetite for a reasonably priced Asian carp in China, especially in the northern part. Cheung says exporting the fish is a good idea. Illinois is investing $2 million to expand Big River Fisheries in Pearl, Illinois to process and ship the carp to China.

"We are the only ones that have the facilities to blast freeze them for export," said Ross Harano, Big River Fisheries.

Gov. Quinn says about 180 jobs will be created in downstate riverside communities.

Fishing the carp out is part of an on going effort to keep the carp out of the Great Lakes. Electric barriers and poison are been used, but Quinn and others say fishing will keep the pressure off the barriers in the Chicago area.

"By fishing for the carp down south we know the carp will come back down south because that is where the food is," said Gov. Quinn.

The State of Michigan has filed a lawsuit against the State of Illinois and the federal government that asks for the locks between Chicago area waterways and Lake Michigan be closed.

ABC 7 has not yet received a response from the Michigan attorney general about governor Quinn's fishing initiative.

Meantime, Big River Fisheries is asking for fisherman to bring in their Asian carp.

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