When Life Gives You Lemons

BoatU.S. Magazine
December 2013

A processing plant in Wickliffe, Kentucky, began shipping to overseas custom­ers this summer. The product? Processed Asian carp. The nuisance fish is caught nearby and headed for China, where it's considered a delicacy. Two Rivers Fishery had just opened in May of this year, and by August the plant was processing around 6,000 pounds of carp a day. The first shipment to China totaled 40,000 pounds, with an order pending for another million pounds. Plant manager Jeff Smith told a local radio station that the company planned to bring on more fishermen to fill the large order.

Asian carp may be desirable elsewhere, but in the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and the region around them, the fish are a serious nuisance, destroying local ecosystems and even causing injury to boaters. The fish grow to be 20 pounds and launch themselves out of the water at the sound of a boat motor, sometimes with damaging consequences for the passing boat and its occupants. And in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois river watersheds, they are the cause of an intense battle over the best way to keep them from populating the Great Lakes and destroying native fish there.

In a statement at the plant opening in May, CEO Angie Yu touted the economic and environmental benefits of the company's plan. "We are thrilled to be a member of the Wickliffe/Ballard community," said Yu. "After years in the international fish importing and exporting business, we have realized our dream of creating our own factory. Our hope is that this facility benefits Kentucky's waterways as well, removing Asian carp from the rivers and turning them into a positive resource."

— Chris Landers