General Informatiom:

For centuries, Old World fish farmers have esteemed the carp as an easily domesticated food fish, so immigrant farmers welcomed these familiar fish when the U.S. Fish Commission first brought them to North America in the late 1800s.

But the carp soon left the farm for the continent's open lakes and streams. As a result, the carp harvest from the Great Lakes has grown steadily since the first recorded catch in 1893. They inhabit shallow, weedy shorelines, particularly along the southeastern end of Lake Michigan and in lower Green Bay, where they are extremely abundant.

Many fishermen and duck hunters resent the carp. These large, omnivorous fish browse on submerged vegetation -- uprooting plants on which ducks feed, muddying the waters and destroying vegetative foods and cover needed by other fish.

An increase in the commercial harvest of carp could help alleviate these problems, and food scientists have long been trying to develop better ways to process and market these fish. Its flesh is firm and palatable if it has been grown in clean water, and Lake Michigan carp in years past were harvested and sold commercially in a variety of forms -- as gefilte fish, for example. Unfortunately, many Great Lakes carp today -- especially those from southern Green Bay and its tributary Fox River -- contain relatively high levels of contaminants and so cannot be marketed as a food fish.

Copyright, 1998, by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
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