Hiding under the surface of rivers throughout Midwestern and Southern states is one of the most formidable invasive species in the U.S., the Asian carp. The biggest threat comes from a few distinct species, some of which can grow to over 100 pounds, while others can churn the water as they leap high into the air in an impressive show of force when spooked by passing boats.
Erica Tardiff, left, and Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA classmate Kelly Haugen, skim across Kentucky Lake in Murray, Kentucky during research for their fish feed business venture, Nobilis Aqua.
Seeking a solution
The strong appetites of the Asian carp have been devastating for native plant and fish species.
“Basically any invasive species you want to remove it,” said Erica Tardiff, a student in the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program in the College of Business.
Tardiff has spent her summer with a team of fellow students, travelling over 8,000 miles around the U.S. and Canada in pursuit of a business solution to the biodiversity loss caused by the voracious vertebrates.
The carps “deprive other fish,” Tardiff said. “They can also lay about a million eggs per year. They can just spread like crazy.”
But the team came up with an innovative way to address the problem.
“Our whole venture is looking at the viability of using invasive Asian carp for fish meal, which is a main ingredient in aqua feed. … Each year 16 million tons of fish come from the ocean just to make fish feed to raise our farm raised fish,” Tardiff said.
This solution would serve the dual purpose of reducing the number of Asian carp to protect native species, while also reducing the burden that other fish populations bear from commercial fishing.
Toured the only onshore coho salmon farm in operation. Most salmon farming gets a bad rep because they use net pens in the ocean. Golden Eagle uses sustainable practices onshore that help reduce waste and their operations overall environmental impact. The view from work isn’t too bad either 👌🏻Thanks to Pat and for showing us around! * * * #aquaculture #fish #mountains #canada #ohcanada #salmon #farm #sustainability #fishyfishy #CSU #gradstudent #gradschool #research
To test their business idea, the team brought Asian carp from Illinois back to Fort Collins and processed them into fish meal, which initial analysis shows as having a high protein and fat content, comparable to what’s used in traditional fish feed.
The scientific viability of using Asian carp for fish meal has already been proven, but the economics behind it haven’t.
“That’s the side we’re trying to develop here,” Tardiff said. “There are problems in aquaculture and people need to be more aware of resources and where their food comes from.”
The Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program engages students in using business to make a positive impact in the world and provides hands-on experience with venture creation through summer fieldwork. To learn more, visit: biz.colostate.edu/GSSE