Kentucky awards fish house contract to combat Asian carp presence

Published on
October 10, 2018

The state of Kentucky on Tuesday, 9 October, announced the creation of a public-private partnership to harvest and sell Asian carp caught in the state’s western waters.

Governor Matt Bevin said Kentucky Fish Center, LLC won a contract to develop a fish house. Angie Yu, who also operates Two Rivers Fishery, will operate the fish center, which will hold daily auctions. The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will manage the auctions.

The state also will guarantee a buying price of USD 0.19 (EUR 0.17) per pound.

In an interview with SeafoodSource, Ron Brooks, the department’s fisheries director, said the goal is to catch and market 20 million pounds annually within five years.

Asian carp were introduced to U.S. waters more than 40 years ago to help control algae blooms in private ponds across the southern states. Over time, floods and other events allowed the carp to enter rivers. That allowed the invasive species spread across the Midwest and Southeast.

Kentucky’s announcement comes at a time when other states and the federal government are looking at ways of containing the species. Officials from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio have forged an agreement with leaders in the Canadian province of Ontario to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. Meanwhile, some officials in Louisiana have called for the creation of a bounty program to reduce the impact the carp has had in the state. 

Besides harming native species, Brooks said the fish can also cause havoc for recreational fishing, which serves an important part of the state’s tourism industry.

“We have kind of a double reason why we're interested in controlling these things,” he said.

Brooks expects the arrangement to attract more commercial fishing operations to Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. Their efforts to harvest the carp will reduce the species impact on the native fish, such as crappie and paddlefish.

Under the contract, the fish house will receive a USD 734,000 (EUR 638,614) guaranteed loan to help with start-up costs. Incentives totaling up to USD 700,000 (EUR 609,033) are available if harvest goals are met, and if the fish house meets the 20-million-pound production goal by 2024, the state will forgive the loan.

State officials estimate it would cost USD 3.5 million (EUR 3.0 million) annually for a public-sector solution, which would not be able to catch and process nearly as much fish as a commercial operator.

“Today’s announcement is a great example of government partnering with the private sector to create a commonsense, market-based solution,” Gov. Bevin said in a statement. “It will provide commercial anglers with new opportunities, while also removing this invasive species from Kentucky’s waterways."

Photo courtesy of Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife

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