Early Governmental Research and Promotion of Silver Carp and Bighead Carp Culture in the United States

Monday, September 9, 2013: 4:20 PM
Miller (Statehouse Convention Center)
Mike Freeze , Keo Fish Farm, Inc., Keo, AR
Anita Kelly , Aquaculture/Fisheries, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR
Carole Engle , Aquaculture and Fisheries, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR
Mike Armstrong , Fisheries, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Little Rock, AR
Andrew Mitchell , Aquaculture, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR
Silver and bighead carp, two of the most cultured fish in the world, arrived in the United States in 1973 during an era when biological control agents were being touted as alternatives to the widespread use of chemicals in the environment. Over the next quarter of a century, many federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Biological Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Bureau of Reclaimation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funded and/or conducted research on the use of one or both of these fish as biological control agents and/or as a food product. Additionally, numerous state natural resource agencies and universities such as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Arkansas State Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, Auburn University, Clemson University, the Illinois Natural History Survey, Mississippi State University, South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and the University of Florida funded and/or conducted research with these fish as well. Unfortunately, it is believed that silver carp and bighead carp escaped from some of these many research sites. These public-sector agencies were successful in encouraging the development of a commercial bighead carp food fish industry in the 1980s and 1990s primarily in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri. They were not successful in creating a market for the silver carp and the private culture of silver carp remained an extremely small (one farm) industry supported by governmental purchases. Because of the injurious listing of these two species, the bighead carp industry is a remnant of its former size and there are no silver carp on a private aquaculture facility anywhere in the United States.