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New IL budget includes funds for asian carp processing

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By Amanda Vinicky, IL Public Radio

Springfield, Ill. – The budget Illinois lawmakers passed last week includes money to try to help solve the problem of Asian carp.

The invasive fish species is taking over Illinois waterways, and the money in the budget is meant to start a new industry around the fish.

The massive carp causes lots of problems. State Sen. Mike Jacobs says they hurt the environment by pushing native fish out of Illinois rivers. Even worse, Jacobs says the 110-pound fish jump out of the water and hit people, which is comparable to being hit with a bowling ball.

One problem is once an Asian carp is caught or jumps into a boat, nobody wants it. Carp are typically bottom-feeders and thus aren't tasty, plus they're bony and hard to eat.

The budget includes a $750,000 grant for family-owned Schafer Fisheries to purchase new equipment. The Western Illinois Company, located in Jacobs' district, will use the equipment to turn these problematic pests into profits.

Jacobs says the company will sell the fish heads in Asia where the carp's a delicacy. And they'll can the carp like tuna, and give it to people after disasters or to prisoners.

Jacobs says state help is needed because the company won't make money at first because there's no market for the fish, which he says the grant will create.

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