Ian Frazier Expertly Prepares the “Asian Carp” Story

The New Yorker’s Ian Frazier went to Illinois to report from the front lines of the

invasion of bighead and silver carp

—mainly the silver carp, because their jumping makes a spectacle. It’s a great piece, mixing the serious ecological narrative with giddy awe at the flying abundance of the carp, “like an old-time dream of frontier bounty.” Recreational fishermen haul them out of the air with nets. The full piece

isn’t online

; it’s worth reading on paper. At one point, Frazier visits a fish-processing plant in the tiny town of Pearl, Illinois, which has made a deal to sell 30 million pounds of carp to China, and gets one worker (“I’ve had days when I’ve gutted and washed twenty thousand pounds of fish”) to give an astonishing monologue on the state of the business:

“There’s commercial fishermen in Havana and in Beardstown that we can call up and say we need a hundred thousand pounds of fish right away, and those boys can get a hundred thousand pounds to us in a day or two. And a day or two later they can have a hundred thousand more. No, we ain’t makin’ a dent.”