We acknowledge that while invasive species represent a real threat to the environment, many of the species have the innate potential to be utilized as temporary resources if they are harvested. By increasing the utility of these invasive species, we add value and increase the incentive for it to be harvested. This strategy relieves the adverse pressure that invasive species place on native ecosystems by reducing population size. Furthermore, by utilizing invasive species as resources we temporarily reduce our reliance on our native natural resources.
Annual loss in crops to U.S. agriculture, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The percentage of animal extinctions since the 17th Century that invasive species have contributed to, according to the Global Biological Outlook.
The percentage of the world's 232 marine ecoregions reported the presence of invasive species (Molnar et al, 2008).
We are initially targeting Asian Carps because they are a prime example of this model. The United States currently has four species of Asian Carps which have spread to inhabit almost one third of the country and number in the billions. The average individual fish size is over 30 lbs, and they can exceed 110 lbs. These fish are filter feeders, consuming over to 100% of their biomass every day in the form of phytoplankton. Because they eat at the very bottom of the freshwater food chain, their heavy feeding affects every member of the native ecosystem.
Reducing populations of Asian Carp is critical for the survival of native plants and animals. Asian Carp are a perfectly healthy and nutritious fish for human consumption, and are comparable in taste and preparation to pollack or similar white fish. They are also usable as pet food, agricultural feed, and natural fertilizer. Currently, many of the fish used in these ways come from ocean fish populations, which are threatened by overfishing around the world. By utilizing invasive Asian Carp we can effectively incentivize their removal from our native ecosystems while temporarily reducing fishing pressure on ocean fish. This will allow both our native freshwater and marine fish populations to rebound.