Blue catfish are threatening the Chesapeake Bay with their ability to adapt and thrive. Now it looks as though the final solution may be our dinner plates.
Originally introduced in the 1960s as a sport fishing opportunity, blue and flathead catfish were stocked in several tributaries in the state of Virginia and have now become one of the area’s worst invasive species.
As a native of the Ohio and Mississippi River systems, these catfish are a normal part of an ecosystem there, but are now recognized for their harmful effects outside their home range. Fish in the 100-pound class are not uncommon and, as an aggressive predator, these catfish can completely take over long stretches of a river system.
The question is what to do about a fish so prolific that it can be “electro-shocked” at a rate of 6,000 an hour or more?
Since catfish are not only edible but are excellent table fare, food markets such as Whole Foods Inc. are now offering these delicious fish in their stores. To make matters even better they are working to promote even more stylish recipes such as grilled Mediterranean catfish:
And catfish tacos:
Not long ago sales of blue catfish were nearly non-existent. Now the area sees almost 300,000 pounds a year being sold. With a market like that and a supply that never seems to outgrow itself, the problem of invasive catfish of the Chesapeake Bay may just be solved.
All photos via NOAA.gov