Regional Fish and Wildlife crews gathered in several locations along the Kentucky and Barkley lakes last week for a three day ‘Carp Blitz’ in a collective effort to track the invasive Asian carp species.
Approximately 30 people gathered in locations along Kentucky and Barkley Lakes to implant ultrasonic tags in the fish.
Murray State University assistant biology professor Dr. Tim Spear says the tags allow crews to keep track of the carp’s activity.
“We knock em out and then we make a small incision. We insert a small tag in it’s about the size of a roll of dimes and then that tag will then admit an ultrasonic pulse which then can detect and that will tell us where our fish is.”
After implanting the tag, crews use a telemetry and tracking receiver to detect carp swimming around the area. Graduate student Nathan Tillotson studies invasive species. He says tracking the fish will help identify their effect on native fish species. Asian carp were once viewed as beneficial in the 1970s when farmers used them to control plankton in ponds but they now pose as a threat to native fish species in the Midwest and Southern United States. According to the National Wildlife Federation, Asian carp now represent more than 97 percent of the biomass in Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Program Coordinator Paul Rister says despite their name, the Asian carp is surprisingly a good fish to eat.
“It has a real white meat. It does have a lot of bones in it. It has what’s called a Y bone in the sides where the ribs are that makes it a little more difficult to filet the bones out and a little more bony if you leave the bones in.”
Asian carp are high in protein and Omega-3, which is known to protect against heart disease. Carp also contains low mercury levels and no PCBs. Rister says he wishes more people would fish for carp to keep them from invading the waterways.