BALTIMORE (WJZ) — From pest to prize. The invasive snakehead fish from Asia that’s been thriving in Maryland waters has been given a makeover into a state trophy fish.

Alex Demetrick reports if you can’t beat in, eat it.

The first one caught in Maryland launched a frantic effort to kill every last one state biologists could find.

The northern snakehead set loose in a Crofton pond in 2002 triggered a search and destroy mission. It worked in the pond, but 12 years later, snakeheads are thriving in the Potomac and other state waters. So the state is making it a game fish.

“It’s a great and exciting game fish and a delicious table fish as well,” said Joe Evans with DNR Fisheries.

And Maryland will award trophies to the biggest.

“Chase these snakesheads. Catch them and harvest them. Don’t release them back into the water,” said Evans.

In the wild, they’ll just make more baby snakeheads.

“We can do our part to help control this invasive species,” said Evans.

Although originally viewed as a threat, the snakehead’s impact is still unclear.

In snakehead waters, scientists search out native fish in an effort to gauge their numbers against an invasive predator.

“The biologists are working hard to determine where the balance is going to be struck,” said Evans.

Catching as many snakeheads as possible, couldn’t hurt.

Snakeheads can get large. So far, the record holder this year in Maryland weighed just under 17 pounds.

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