State wildlife officials say commercializing the harvest of Asian Carp may be the only way to eradicate the invasive species, but it may lead to problems in itself. Ron Brooks, Fisheries Director of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources speaks with Kate Lochte on Sounds Good about plans for over-harvesting Asian Carp and Kentucky's lucrative caviar industry.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is holding an informational meeting at the Kentucky Dam Village this weekend to highlight major issues of west Kentucky’s waters, one of them being “Carp Madness.”
Several local businesses specializing in processing Asian Carp have opened to take advantage of the abundant population.
KFWR Fisheries Director Ron Brooks says the harvesting is currently unlimited, and the state is looking to leave it that way.
“All these facilities coming in understand that we want them to harvest as many as they can, we’re not going to put restrictions on their harvests," said Brooks. "But at the same time, we’re not going to put regulations in place to perpetuate the species. So it’s kind of a unique situation for Asian Carp in terms of how these folks are trying to handle the fact that we fully expect them to over harvest. “
Brooks says a potential issue could arise if the business becomes too profitable: interest groups may look to impose regulation to sustain the species, not destroy it. However, he says current state and federal funding doesn’t leave room for another option.
On the commercial fishing industry in Kentucky, the caviar industry yields several million dollars annually, depending on how much fishermen harvest. Kentucky recently led the nation in roe harvest for paddlefish, Brooks says, with 20,000 pounds. The cost of caviar ranges from $100 to $160 per pound. It's a good industry, he says, and hopes to be able to help the industry grow in a sustainable way.
The informational meeting is at 7 pm Thursday, January 15th at the Kentucky Dam Village.