Invasive bigheaded carps, genus Hypophthalmichthys
, are spreading throughout the Mississippi River basin. To explore the efficacy of a consumer-based market (i.e., invasivorism) to manage them, we developed a conceptual model and evaluated three harvest approaches—direct contracted removal, volume-based incentives (“fisher-side” control), and set-quota harvest (“market-side” control). We quantified the efficacy of these approaches and potential population impact in the Illinois River. Contracted removal was effective for suppressing small populations at the edge of the range but cannot support a market. “Fisher-side” removals totaled 225,372 kg in one year. However, participation was low, perhaps due to reporting requirements for fishers. The “market-side”, set-quota approach removed >1.3 million kg of bigheaded carp in less than 6 months. Larger, older fish were disproportionately harvested, which may hinder the ability to suppress population growth. Total density declined in one river reach, and harvest may reduce upstream movement toward the invasion fronts. With sufficient market demand, harvest may control bigheaded carp. However, lack of processing infrastructure and supply chain bottlenecks could constrain harvest, particularly at low commodity prices. Given the geographical scale of this invasion and complicated harvest logistics, concerns about economic dependence on invasivorism that encourage stock enhancement are likely unmerited.
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