Nature lake

Published on August 27th, 2008 | by Kelli Best-Oliver

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Got Fish? Utah's Got Six Million For You.

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August 27th, 2008 by

I can see the Freecycle post now:

OFFER: I have six million carp, good condition. Nothing wrong with them; just have more than I need. You must pick up.

The State of Utah might just be posting like this something soon. Apparently, they’re in the market to unload a few carp–approximately six million–that are tearing up the bottom of Utah Lake, destroying habitat for an endangered species.


Carp feed on lake bottoms, and, as they do that, they rip up weeds and reeds that provide important hiding for the June sucker, an endangered fish that only lives in Utah Lake and the rivers that feed into it. These smaller fish, without adequate coverage, are easy prey for walleyes and bass. There were as few as 1,000 June suckers left until wildlife biologists stepped in. The extensive carp population, which is not native to Utah Lake, is preventing the June sucker from survival, so Utah wildlife officials are looking for ways to get rid of the carp without simply netting them out and dumping them in a landfill. Officials estimate that they need to get rid of a million pounds a carp per year for six years.

The problem is what to do with it? There’s not an extensive market for carp as food for humans, although there is in Central Europe and Asia, so the fish may be shipped to where a market exists, or shipped for use in humanitarian missions. However, there are more close-to-home options: selling the fish as hatchery meal for trout, using the fish as compost, or using the fish for human consumption in canned fish, fish sticks, or imitation crab (?!?!). The only problem with the latter options is the level of PCBs in fish from Utah Lake: they’re higher than EPA standards, but lower than FDA standards, making the fish difficult to market for human consumption. The state has already granted a permit for one Utah businessman to use 1.6 million pound of the carp, granted he can come up with a feasible idea for its use.

Good luck with that.

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About the Author

A former high school teacher, I'm currently a part-time writer/full-time doctoral student at the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities, studying leadership in education from a critical pedagogy perspective along with public policy. On the green side, I'm interested in local food and agriculture (Iowa girl, born and raised), sustainability education, DIY projects, and grassroots activism. I'm slowly turning my South City, St Louis home into an urban farmstead. On the hoping-to-be-greener side, I love reading, yoga, soccer, music, backpacking, knitting, pop culture and trivia, my Tuesday Night Dinner Club, traveling, Guitar Hero, dive bars, and sitting on front porches with my husband and a cold beer. I came to Green Options via a post on Sustainablog,working the St Louis angle to get Jeff to let me in. I have a personal blog chronicling (what else?) life in South St. Louis. Follow me on Twitter!



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