That’s One Way to Deal With Invasive Species

Image courtesy of the Potomac Snakehead Tournament

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


What do you do with a dangerous, invasive fish? Eat it, apparently.

In the DC-Virginia-Maryland region, waterways have been plagued by the snakehead fish, an invasive species here. The fish, native to Asia, has been multiplying in the region since 2002. Snakeheads can measure nearly three feet long, they’re carnivorous, and they have special lung things that allow them to live out of water for a few days and travel over land. They’re pretty terrifying, and scientists are concerned about the impact they might have on the ecosystem in this region.

In Maryland this weekend, fisherfolk are invited out for a snakehead tournament, with the goal of catching as many of the fish as possible. A $1,500 prize goes to the team that catches the heaviest load of fish, and there will also be a prize awarded for the biggest single fish caught. You can fish with a regular old hook and line, or you can hunt them with a bow and arrow, according to the tournament rules.

Here’s what organizers told WAMU, the Washington public radio station:

Though he says he hasn’t seen any major environmental impact at this point, wildlife officials throughout the area are encouraging people to catch the fish. And they are.

John Austin is the director of the Second Annual Snakehead Tournament. Fisherman will start casting their lines, or getting their bows and arrows ready, Saturday night. They’ll fish over night, and through half past noon on Sunday.

“Our goal this year is to remove at least 800 pounds of snakeheads out of the Potomac watershed,” says Austin. “Last year, we removed over 400 pounds, so we’re looking to double that.”

I ate snakehead while I was in Vietnam last month, where it’s a common dish. It’s pretty tasty. I also visited a snakehead farm while there, and watched one of the workers dump a giant bag of chum into the water to feed the hungry beasts, which was a good indication of why they are so dangerous here in a non-native ecosystem.

See our previous coverage of eating invasive pigs and plants, in case you’re thinking of having a feast this weekend.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.