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Spillway opening brings invasive Asian carp

Some restaurants are now referring to Asian Carp as "silver fin" to make the fish sound a little more appetizing.

ST. CHARLES PARISH -- This week, the Army Corps of Engineers started opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway to lower water levels on the rising Mississippi in the New Orleans area.

River water isn't the only thing flowing through the spillway.

Environmentalists complain that an invasive species of fish is also entering the basin.

Friday, spillway fishermen were reeling in the Asian Carp.

It took Blake Duvic from Norco, 15 minutes to catch a 30 pounder.

"He gave a big fight," Duvic said. "That's really all I do with them, though. Just a fun time to come out and catch them."

But, not all Asian Carp are caught.

There are concerns the fish can impact the food chain in the Lake Pontchartrain basin.

"They will probably displace some of the native fish that are filter feeders," Spillway Project Manager Chris Brantley said. "They are mostly filter feeders so they're taking tiny plants out of the water column itself."

Brantley also says 217 Asian Carp were tagged in 2016, the last time the Army Corps opened the Bonnet Carre.

There is some research that suggests the fresh water species does not fair well in the lake.

"The brackish water of Lake Pontchartrain is not suitable for these fish," Brantley said. "So, they're probably not doing very well once they hit salt water and probably dying and becoming crab food at that point."

But, is Asian Carp people food as well?

"People eat them, but I don't," Duvic said.

Adam Reynard, another spillway fisherman, claims carp is good eating.

"Something like a tuna," Reynard said. "That's what it tastes like."

New Orleans Chef Kevin Belton who hosts cooking shows on WWL-TV and PBS, described carp meat as white and flakey with a lot of bones.

"The best thing to do is filet them like a normal fish, take off the skin, then poach it," Belton said. "When you poach it, that meat will fall of that little fine bone in there and then you can grind them up and make fish cakes."

Belton maintains the best way to eradicate this invasion species is to eat it.

"There's nothing that will eat these fish except a Louisianian," Belton said. "So if we start eating them, we'll take care of them. That way, they won't over-populate our area."

Some restaurants are now referring to Asian Carp as "silver fin" to make the fish sound a little more appetizing.

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