McConnell Says Reducing Asian Carp His Number One Issue In West Kentucky

May 28, 2019

Credit Liam Niemeyer / WKMS

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says reducing the population of invasive Asian carp is the number one issue he wants to accomplish in west Kentucky this year and next.

McConnell at a press conference on Tuesday in Calvert City pledged to secure more federal funds for the effort.

He’s optimistic that Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley can be cleaned up while a commercial market develops.  “For those who may develop a market for it, outside the lakes - out in the rivers, there’s an endless supply to continue their businesses. So their businesses would not go under,” McConnell said.

Ron Brooks is the fisheries director for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He said it would take more than a lifetime to eradicate the thousands of miles of Asian carp stretching across the waterways. “You're never going to harvest enough asian carp in the rivers with the effort that we have in the foreseeable future.”

Brooks explained that reducing the lakes population would push the fish toward the rivers for the commercial Asian carp fishing industry to then do its part.

USGS Research Fish Biologist Duane Chapman said the modified-unified method contains fish to a body of water as a unit - blocking off a cove, for example. Using underwater loudspeakers and electrofishing gear, the fish would be corralled to a killing zone to be killed all at once in a large quantity. 

Brooks said the bio-acoustic fish fence - or BAFF barrier - is expected to be tested as early as July or August. The modified-unified method is planned for January or February.

Fish and wildlife officials say it takes catching 125,000 pounds of carp each day to make a dent in the population.