Kentucky officials get firsthand look at new method to eradicate Asian carp population

Published on
February 18, 2020

State and federal officials in Kentucky traveled to the western part of the state on 17 February to see firsthand a pilot program designed to control the invasive Asian carp population.

Throughout February, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is working with several federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to remove the invasive species from Kentucky Lake, a large man-made resovoir, using an innovative method.

Crews are using underwater speakers and electro-fishing gear to corral the fish into two embayments at the lake.

Among those on hand to watch the fishermen in action were Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), and U.S. Rep. Jamie Comer (R-Kentucky).

“I requested that the Trump administration deploy this advanced unified method here at Kentucky Lake, and it looks like it will be an important asset to protect our waters and our local economies,” McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said in a statement.

The modified unified method has been used previously to extract Asian carp from Illinois and Missouri waters, but the Kentucky project is the first time it’s been tried in a federal reservoir larger than 500 acres.

It’s a process that’s designed to weed out the native fish from the intruders, which feast on threatened and endangered mussels and snails. They also feed off the plankton that’s supposed to be the main food source for local fish such as crappie and largemouth bass that attract recreational anglers to the region.

“Recreational fishing pours more than USD 1 billion (EUR 924.3 million) each year into the state’s USD 11 billion (EUR 10.17 billion) tourism industry,” Beshear said in a statement. “Today’s efforts illustrate our commitment to ensuring Kentucky’s tourism industry and local economies can continue to thrive from the booming recreational fishing industry.”

A release from the governor’s office indicated the method has helped capture thousands of pounds of Asian carp. That’s despite unseasonably warmer weather that’s led to the fish being more active than normal for February.

The pilot program is just the last method Kentucky and federal officials are using to remove Asian carp from the region. Last year, commercial fishermen harvested more than 7 million pounds of the fish from Kentucky Lake and neighboring Lake Barkley.

The fish was introduced into U.S. waters more than 40 years ago to help control algae blooms in private ponds. Flooding and other events helped them spread into public waterways throughout the Midwest and Southeast.

Efforts are underway to keep the species from the Great Lakes.  

Photo by J K Laws/Shutterstock 

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