Most of these fish may not fly the freak flag as we know it, but all of them are invasive species that are dominating an environment in which they are not native–and adversely affecting the habitat they now call home. This year Food & Water Watch, the non-profit that helps people navigate making safe and sustainable food and water choices, has included invasive species in their Smart Seafood Guide–with the idea that adding invasive species as a menu item may help to control their populations at less destructive levels. And with so many other aquatic species being overfished to the point of extinction, it may be an idea whose time has come. What do you think? Asian swamp eel for dinner?
Following are 9 invasive species as Food & Water Watch has described in the new guide.
1. Asian carp (Midwest and Great Lakes regions)
Asian carp, as they are known in the United States, actually includes several different species, including the bighead, black and silver carp. Asian carp species are not bottom feeders, and so are generally lower in contaminants than the common carp. Although the FDA has not yet evaluated these fish for contaminants, they are believed to be low in mercury. These fish are native to Asia and were brought to the United States primarily by catfish farmers in the 1970s to control algal blooms in aquaculture ponds. Today, Asian carp have spread through major waterways from the Southeast through sporadic flooding events, and have moved toward the Great Lakes regions. Asian carp are a problem because they are prolific spawners, grow and mature quickly, and feed on both plant and animal plankton. Silver carp, for example, may consume two to three times their own body weight in algae and phytoplankton each day — throwing off ecosystem balance. Asian carp may compete with other native fish populations in the lakes and ponds of the Midwest. Asian carp can be caught with cast nets, hand nets or occasionally on hook and line.
Flckr Kate Gardiner