Kentucky wildlife officials trying new Asian carp control

GOLDEN POND, Ky. (AP) — A fishing method originally developed in China will be used to remove invasive Asian carp from Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

The “unified method” of fishing drives carp through a series of large nets into a containment area, where they can be harvested, said Kevin Irons, aquatic species program manager with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Irons has travelled to China to talk with fisherman about their methods. He also helped coordinate a successful harvest in Illinois using the unified method.

Asian carp is a catchall term for several invasive carp species that are damaging native aquatic populations. They are a major concern throughout the Mississippi River basin, including the Tennessee River, which forms Kentucky Lake, and the Cumberland River, which forms Lake Barkley, according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

A news release Thursday from the office of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday says the unified method will be tried on the two reservoirs, which form the east and west sides of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

The release says the Kentucky Republican helped secure a $600,000 increase in federal funds to combat Asian carp in the Mississippi and Ohio River basins.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources agency controls portions of the two lakes and expects to help with the effort, which likely will take place in the winter, when the fish are less likely to jump out of the nets, Fisheries Chief Frank Fiss said.

Irons said native fish species can also be caught up in the nets used for catching the invasive carp. A larger weave in the mesh can allow smaller fish to escape the nets by themselves. Other native fish have to be separated from the Asian carp individually and released.

One method of driving Asian carp through the water is by using certain sound frequencies that they flee from, Irons said. This method doesn’t affect many of the native species. Sound is also used to create barriers to try to keep Asian carp from invading new bodies of water.

Harvesting with the unified method won’t get rid of all the Asian carp in a body of water, but it can bring down the population substantially, Irons said.

“Eradication is a noble goal, but the best tool we have right now is harvest,” Irons said.

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