Thursday, February 13, 2020

Southern states, feds step up campaign against Asian carp

Photo from Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee
State and federal fish and wildlife agencies have spent about $607 million altogether to stop the spread of Asian carp since 2004. As more Southern states try to stop the invasive species, that total is expected to hit about $1.5 billion over the next decade.

"That’s more than five times the amount predicted in 2007 when a national carp management plan was crafted, and no end is in sight. Programs aim to reduce established populations and prevent further spreading, but wildlife officials concede they may never be able to eradicate the prolific fish," Travis Loller and John Flesher report for ABC News.

The invaders reproduce rapidly, and can kill off native species by eating or outcompeting them. That endangers fishing industries, habitats and tourism. Most of the money so far has been spent on apparently successful efforts at keeping them out of the Great Lakes, but "less money and attention have been paid to the carp’s virtually unchecked spread east and west into the Missouri and Ohio rivers, among others," Loller and Flesher report. But as the fish become increasingly well-established in the Mississippi River watershed, more Southern states are trying to keep them out of lakes.

In late November, state and federal officials began testing some creative tactics to keep carp out of Lake Barkley and nearby Kentucky Lake, including using electric pulses and huge nets to capture them, along with flashing white lights, low-level noises and streams of bubbles to scare the fish away.
Kentucky officials have been especially proactive in trying to get the carp out of the twin lakes, a major tourist destination near the Mississippi River. Last year the state partnered with a processor, Two Rivers Fisheries, to sell Asian carp abroad since the species are popular menu items in China. The program pays local fishers for their Asian carp catches. Kentucky anglers brought in 6 million pounds last year, Loller and Flesher report.

Selling the fish has had limited success, since Chinese buyers like them fresh. Angie Yu, president of Two Rivers, said she's trying to sell in Europe and the Middle East, Loller and Flesher report.

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