Fishery Capitalizing on Asian Carp Invasion Seeks to Expand into Kentucky

An Illinois-based fishery is working to open a plant in western Kentucky to process large amounts of Asian carp into fertilizer and food. Asian carp is an invasive species, and has been slowly working its way toward the Great Lakes.

Schafer’s–headquartered in Thompson, Illinois–is highlighted in a recent PBS story about Asian carp.

In a structure next to the fish processing plant, a large machine the Schafers call “The Human Body” digests the discarded bones, skins and tendons. Enzymes much like those found in the stomach break down the leftovers to create an organic liquid fertilizer.

And business has been good. Schafer says, over the last six years, processing of Asian carp has more than doubled to about 15 million pounds each year. And they are in the final stages of research and development on several new Asian carp-based products, including hot dogs.

It’s something the company hopes will open the door to Asian carp for many skeptical consumers.

“The toughest challenge, I would say, is just changing the perspective and just getting people to try — to try the fish,” James Schafer said.

The company is fully invested in marketing Asian carp products like salami, bologna and even Asian carp jerky.

According to the Rural Blog, in June Schafer’s was granted preliminary approval for tax credits for the proposed plant in Wickliffe, Kentucky.

I’ve called Schafer’s to find out where they are in the process of constructing the plant in Wickliffe, but I was told to call back in a few days. I’ll post the response here when I get it.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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