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State

Grants to help Asian carp sales

The severed head of a bighead carp from Schafer Fisheries sits on display at the Broadway Supermarket in Chicago. Gov. Bruce Rauner is advocating a grant program to assist marketing efforts for Asian carp product sales.
The severed head of a bighead carp from Schafer Fisheries sits on display at the Broadway Supermarket in Chicago. Gov. Bruce Rauner is advocating a grant program to assist marketing efforts for Asian carp product sales.

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced this week that companies and individuals interested in expanding demand for food and other products using Asian carp caught in Illinois waters are invited to apply for grant funding to assist their marketing efforts.

Grants are now available through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Asian Carp Market Value Program (MVP) to support current Asian carp processors and product-makers in expanding existing markets and developing new markets and sales opportunities for Asian carp products.

“One of the best ways to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp is to reduce the population of the invasive species, and our governments spend millions of dollars each year to remove these fish from our rivers,” Rauner said in a press release. “This grant program will give our fishing industry incentives to harvest even more Asian carp by expanding and creating new markets for the fish. The end result will be savings for taxpayers and a reduced threat to the Great Lakes.”

“We want to help businesses increase their sales of Asian carp products as part of the State of Illinois’ effort to reduce the numbers of Asian carp and aid in managing this pesky but tasty fish,” said Kevin Irons, manager of the IDNR Aquatic Nuisance Species Program. “Taking more Asian carp out of Illinois waters helps prevent their spread, as well as reduce impacts where they are present.”

Federal funds dedicated to preventing the spread of Asian carp are being used for this new business development initiative. Funding is limited for this initial effort, and a steering committee has been established to aid in reviewing applications and awarding grants.

As part of the IDNR Asian Carp Market Value Program, grants of up to $8,000 per applicant are available (with a 20 percent match by the applicant) to reimburse recipients for business travel expenses and attendance at trade shows and conferences associated with market development and sales of Asian carp products.

Eligible applicants are those currently operating Asian carp fish processors and product makers that have sales of Asian carp products over some or all of the last year from date of application. Applicants also must have purchased Illinois-caught Asian carp over the same time period.

Applicants also must have a clearly-defined plan for growth of current or new Asian carp products and achievable, quantifiable goals that will result from this grant funding.

More information on the Illinois Asian Carp MVP initiative is available online at ifishillinois.org.

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