Pan seared Local Wild Catfish Filet with Boudin Sausage Dirty Rice, Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, and Spinach
“Situations that are truly win-win are few and far between. But, resource managers and foodies alike agree: Eating blue catfish from the Chesapeake Bay is tasty and nutritious一and it is good for the ecosystem.
Blue catfish are considered an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay. They were introduced to several rivers on Virginia’s Western Shore decades ago. People thought that these fish, which like fresh water, would stay in those rivers. But blue catfish were able to tolerate higher salinity than anticipated. They swam out into the Bay and back into other rivers. And people moved them from one river to another, too. They are now in most of the Bay’s river systems, in Maryland and Virginia’s Eastern and Western Shores.
Some people are happy to see blue catfish. They are fun targets for angling because they grow big and can provide a challenge for recreational fishermen. But blue catfish eat basically everything, including blue crabs and other fish. Not only do they compete with other larger fish for food … they eat those other fish, too. As a result, these apex predators are throwing the food web off balance.
Fishery biologists have learned more about blue catfish in recent years. And resource managers have been working to identify ways to keep the population from getting out of hand. The Chesapeake Bay Program, in which NOAA is a key partner, has an Invasive Catfish Workgroup that has focused on the problem. Recently, this Workgroup approved an Invasive Catfish Management Strategy (PDF, 21 pages) to guide efforts around the Bay to manage invasive catfish. In addition to blue catfish, flathead catfish are also invasive in the Bay. But their numbers are not as great as blue catfish and they are more limited to freshwater” – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration