Thursday, October 11, 2018

Kentucky awards first-of-its-kind contract to company to buy invasive Asian carp, process them and export them to China

In an effort to reduce populations of invasive Asian carp in Western Kentucky, the state has awarded a first-of-its-kind contract to a company that will buy carp from fishermen, process it and sell it, David Snow reports for The Paducah Sun.

Map of far Western Kentucky shows rivers, lakes and
watersheds. (Four Rivers Watershed Watch base map)
Gov. Matt Bevin announced the contract with Kentucky Fish Center in Wickliffe this week. The company is owned and operated by nearby fish processing outfit Two Rivers Fisheries. "Asian carp caught in Kentucky will be sold by the center in daily auctions open to any interested buyers," Snow reports. "The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will oversee the auctions."

Two Rivers is the biggest Asian-carp exporter in the U.S. and has processed almost 8 million pounds since 2013, according to Vice President of Development Lining He. "There is a lot of potential," He told Snow. "Right now, we are using it as frozen fish, the basic product. Next, we are working on ground meat. From there, you can do hamburgers, sausage, sandwiches, that type of thing . . . Over the next couple of years, we will have a full operation covering the frozen fish, processing and reprocessed products as well as the organic fertilizer."

But the company will need a reliable supply of carp to do that. That's where enterprising locals come in: Kentucky Fish Center will buy fish from fishermen, offering $5,000 or more a month, a sign-up bonus and a free Ford F-150 pickup truck bonus for those who bring in a million pounds of Asian carp in one year. Workers will also be needed for the processing plant.

Anglers will have to catch a lot more Asian carp to keep them from dominating waters in Western Kentucky. State Tourism Secretary Don Parkinson told Snow, "We need to support the creation of a much bigger fish industry here. We're getting about 2 million pounds a year now; we need 5 million in two years, and in five years, we're going to have 20 million. If you don't start getting fish out on that scale, it's going to overrun these lakes."

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