Effort underway to battle Asian carp threat
NASHVILLE -- In a continuing effort to help assure Kentucky and Lake Barkley reservoirs remain top fishing and boating destinations, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is partnering with the Paris-Henry County Industrial Committee to battle the invasion of Asian carp.
In addition, the Tennessee General Assembly’s Asian Carp Task Force, chaired by District 75 (Henry, Benton and Stewart counties) Rep. Tim Wirgau, recently helped acquire $75,000 to purchase equipment beneficial to cultivating the local commercial industry.
Commercial fishermen harvested more a million pounds of Asian carp in 2016, with most of these fish netted from Kentucky portions the lakes, according to the TWRA.
Aware of the 2016 results, the Paris-Henry County Industrial Committee, with financial help that Rep. Wirgau worked to obtain, will meet with local businesses to identify their needs for helping the commercial Asian carp industry be even better equipped to remove carp from Kentucky and Barkley lakes.
“I’m thankful to the legislative body and TWRA for their partnership and recognition that we have a problem with Asian carp,” said Rep. Wirgau.
“We must address this issue and do all we can to keep our recreation and tourism alive on beautiful Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River. I hope this first stage puts in motion the start to somehow reduce the Asian carp species.”
While Asian carp are a major concern for how they could eventually effect native fish populations, so far they have not done so in Tennessee.
“Fortunately, at the current population density of Asian carp has not had any measurable impacts to our sport fish populations,” said Frank Fiss, the chief of TWRA’s Fisheries Division. “However, that could change if the carp populations become more prolific as they move upstream in the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.
“We need a successful commercial industry to make sure we keep their numbers down,” said Fiss.
TWRA is also cooperating with the Tennessee Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit at Tennessee Tech University to monitor all life stages of carp throughout the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.
Information about carp abundance and movement are being used to inform local and national strategies to control the spread of these fish. Next steps to battle the movement of Asian carp could include carp specific barriers at locks to prevent their spread upstream.