SPRINGFIELD, Ill., July 13 (UPI) -- Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn signed an agreement Tuesday with China to export up to 30 million pounds of Asian carp a year from the Illinois River.
The move is aimed at reducing the population of the invasive species in downstate Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"(If) you can't beat 'em, eat 'em," Quinn said of the carp during the signing ceremony.
"We believe the people of China who like to eat Asian carp will find this is the best anywhere on Earth," Quinn said.
Illinois is investing $2 million to upgrade facilities at Big River Fisheries in Pearl, a fish processing plant that ships millions of pounds of Asian carp to China and other countries annually, the Tribune said.
Expanding the plant's capabilities means Big River could process and ship 30 million pounds of Asian carp to upscale Chinese restaurants by 2011, Quinn said.
If it runs at full capacity, Big River could process up to 50 million pounds of fish, said Ross Harano, Big River's director of international sales.
In addition, the investment will bring up to 180 new jobs to the Pearl and Pittsfield, where Big River's production facilities are.
"Just like people pay a premium for Angus beef, we believe people will pay a premium for this," Harano said. "We're marketing it as 'Wild Mississippi River Fish.' It's all in how you market it over there."