Back in the 1970s, importing one of two species of Hypophthalmichthys to clean up commercial fish-raising ponds and sewage lagoons seemed like a great idea. These Asian carp thrived, and ponds got cleaner. But when the fish broke containment, trouble ensued. Today Asian carp, like these on the Illinois River, are among the nation’s most troubling invasive species, a hazard to both the health of waterways and, because of their incredible leaping ability, any boater unfortunate enough to startle them. The potential of their spread to the Great Lakes is particularly troubling. What to do? “Why not try eating them?” says Mark Morgan, an associate professor in MU’s School of Natural Resources. Asian carp are an inexpensive, healthy food, with much lower levels of mercury than tuna, Morgan says. In taste tests, he has found that consumers typically preferred the Asian carp to other fish, including catfish. “Carp has an image problem: People assume that carp is not good, that it’s low quality or has poor flavor,” Morgan says. “If you eat it, you’ll change your mind pretty quickly.”

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