Multiple Chinese investors are developing a 72-acre multi-tract industrial park in Ballard County dedicated to processing Asian carp. Stakeholders, state and local leaders and international press gathered for the announcement Friday at Two Rivers Fisheries. The new International Fisheries Park will significantly expand and complement operations in and around the existing operation.
Two Rivers Fisheries President Angie Yu said the new park is the first of its kind in the United States. “I think with all these investors here we can make this park very popular in the world. We can produce value added products with this Asian carp, make it popular in the world like KFC. We reduce, reuse and redefine Asian carp. This is our mission,” she said.
In addition to the existing companies at the site, the new companies are Two Rivers Foods LLC, Novaland Group LLC, United Fisheries Group LLC, Lakeside City LLC, and investors Chuming Jiang and Fengjie An - both in the process of registering new businesses. Two Rivers Fisheries already operates three companies in the park, including Kentucky Fish Center and EcoFish.
Each of the new companies is in the process of signing a memorandum of agreement with the Ballard County Fiscal Court to purchase tracts of land at the park. The park is designed for vertical processing integration - with no fish waste. One company in particular will turn the fish guts into fertilizer (Novaland).
Yu said two will begin operations soon (Two Rivers Foods and United Fisheries). The rest are waiting on the completion of a road through the park. Yu expects the companies will be up and running within two or three years. She estimated each one is investing at least one million dollars into their operations and each will hire at least 10 people. She also said a Chinese restaurant will be located on site. She said there are only four lots remaining in the park.
Yu said her company has already processed 1.5 million pounds in calendar year 2019. In six years, she estimates processing 78 million pounds. When asked if there are that many fish in the water, she laughed and said “I hope so.”
Ron Brooks of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife said there is so much Asian carp in the waterways that they will never be over harvested in a lifetime. He said Kentucky is the epicenter of the Asian carp processors in the country and noted public-private partnerships in the state thus far without federal subsidy. He said the timing of the park is perfectly aligned with increasing market demand for the fish.
The fish is shipped both domestically and to 11 countries. The product mainly goes to the Middle East, eastern Europe and Asian countries.
Development manager Dr. He said he is writing a book about Asian carp. He said he wants people to know Asian carp in of themselves are not a problem, but rather the problem is that there are too many of them.
He said people consume more Asian carp than any other fish. “Asian carp accounts for more than 10 percent of global seafood consumption. That includes seafood, shell foods, lobster, all kinds of fish combined.” He said more silver carp is consumed than salmon and tuna combined. “That’s the kind of fish we are talking about. It is a problem. It is a problem here. But it’s not a garbage. If we look at it from a different perspective, the problem could be a goldmine.”
He said Asian carp has been domesticated in Asia for thousands of years and has always been a part of the culture. He said scientists introduced the carp to the United States in the 1960s and 70s as a means for waste treatment in the south. “In China alone… processing Asian carp is a business industry worth more than $10 billion U.S. dollars,” He said.
Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Commissioner Erran Persley praised the public-private partnership effort in the new park and what it means for business relations between the U.S. and China at a higher level. “This is an excellent example here in Ballard County of how at the sub-national level, regardless of what’s going on at the federal level or national level that we can come together and make business happen between our two countries.”
State Representative Steven Rudy praised Yu and the investors for turning a liability (invasive Asian carp) into an asset.
The year-round commercial fishing of Asian carp was recently approved by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. President Trump recently signed legislation that requires federal agencies to develop plans to reduce or eliminate invasive species, such as Asian carp.