By: Rebecca Klopf
ROCKFORD (WREX) - A Rockford doctor looks to get into the business of stopping the spread of Asian carp. The invasive species is threatening the Great Lakes eco-system. Dr. John Holden wants to turn the carp into something that can be used in animal feed or for human. He and his business partner tested a new way to process fish in Havana, Illinois last year. Now they're just a few months away from it running full time.
Wildlife experts say Asian carp is so invasive it can crowd out native fish ruining the multi-billion dollar fishing industry. The fish are already in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Fears that they could get into the Great Lakes got Dr. Holden to act. He grew up near Lake Michigan and didn't want to see it destroyed. He also says Asian carp produces some of the best omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil. that is in high demand for supplements and animal feed, especially in China. The people in the country also eat a diet that includes a lot of Asian carp.
An Illinois fishery is catching the fish, gutting them and sending filets to China. Dr. Holden's company, Heartland Processing, will soon take the left-overs and turn it into a powered protein supplement.
"The idea is to quickly have one plant up and operating on the Illinois River and then within 3 years have a dozen plants all over the Midwest," says Dr. Holden.
He says the process plant should be operating a full capacity by July. The manufacturing of the machinery that will be used in the plants will come from Rockford.