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Entries in Mississippi River (42)

Friday
Aug092013

Minnesotans Want Locks Closed to Protect Fisheries from Asian Carp

Minnesotans are worried about Asian carp moving into inland lakes from the Mississippi River--- and justifiably so. As they’ve spread out from the lower Mississippi states, where they escaped, they’ve proven inexorable in their expansion, often riding in on flood waters.

Dennis Anderson at the StarTribune says this:

“Waiting this long to close some combination of the Upper or Lower St. Anthony locks, or the lock at Ford Dam, on the Mississippi River to stop Asian carp from infesting the state’s northern waters, is among the dumbest stunts Minnesota has pulled.

“Every day the locks stay open, the state’s inaction is dumber still.”

Also, a poll released by the National Wildlife Federation and other groups reveals that 63 percent of Minnesotans would support closing the locks in Minneapolis to prevent the spread of Asian carp.

“Minnesotans understand that fishing is not just a major part of our Minnesota economy, it is part of our quality of life and heritage," said state senator Amy Klobuchar. "That's why I convinced my colleagues in the Senate to pass my amendment closing the lock. The legislation needs to now pass the House."

Saturday
Jul202013

Asian Carp Infestation Worst in Mississippi, Missouri Basins

USGS bighead carp distribution map

Asian carp have been found in fisheries from Colorado to New Jersey and from North Dakota to Florida, according to a map released recently by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

 “Asian Carp Distribution in North America” displays the presence of bighead and silver carp at all life stages, as well as black carp and grass carp occurrences. Since three bighead carp have been collected in the western basin over the years by commercial fishermen, Lake Erie is one of the green shaded areas, which indicates the presence of at least one adult fish. (This is not the map shown above. Go to link to see more detailed map.)

Not surprisingly, the most intense infestation is in the Mississippi and Missouri River watersheds, including the Illinois River, which connects to Lake Michigan via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

On the positive side, no Asian carp have been found above the canal’s electric barriers during the past two years, despite hundreds of interagency monitoring trips, including 192 hours of electrofishing and 82 miles of netting.

But on the southeast side of the Mississippi River watershed, meanwhile, Asian carp are a growing problem for the Tennessee River and especially Kentucky Lake.

"Asian Carp by the thousands are flooding Kentucky Lake, causing a problem for fishermen, regular boaters and the other fish. With no natural predators the Asian carp are single-handedly eating the entire food supply, reports WBBJ.

Friday
Mar152013

Commercial Tournament Highlights Carp Threat to Sport Fisheries

Commercial fishermen bring in catch during tournament. AP photo.

The threat that Asian carp pose to the north --- Great Lakes, upper Missouri River impoundments, inland Minnesota waters from the upper Mississippi, etc. --- makes most of the headlines these days.

But these prolific nuisance species also are moving south and east through the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers systems. And the severity of the invasion in these waters is evidenced by the results of a recent first-of-its-kind commercial fishing tournament at Kentucky and Barkley lakes.

Eleven teams brought in 82,953 pounds of Asian carp. That’s short of the 200,000-pound goal, but 41 tons are more than enough to reveal the extent of the problem.

The Gleaner.com reports the following:  

"It validated some of the things we had thought, that good skilled fisherman can come in there and take out 10,000 pounds a day, all you have to do is create a market," Kentucky Fish and Wildlife spokesman Mark Marraccini said on Thursday. The fish can be harvested to produce fertilizers, pet foods, and fish oil products, he said. They are also edible.

State officials are concerned about the rapid spread of the fish in Barkley and Kentucky lakes. The carp breed faster than some native species and eat up the algae and zooplankton that other fish depend on.

The Asian carp infiltrated the Mississippi River in the 1970s after getting loose from fish farms. Federal officials, worried about the species reaching the Great Lakes, are conducting a study to investigate how Asian carp DNA got into rivers and canals in the Chicago area.

Ron Brooks, Kentucky's fisheries director, said one species of the problem fish, the silver carp, is prone to leaping out of the water when agitated by boat noise, which can injure boaters and skiers.

Brooks said state officials will make tweaks to the next tournament to attract more fishing teams.

The two-day tournament winner was Barry Mann of Gilbertsville. His team hauled in 28,669 pounds and won a top prize of $10,000. The commercial teams used nets since the carp don't bite on baited hooks. More than 20 teams signed up but just 11 teams brought in fish for weighing, Marraccinni said.

The removed carp were taken to a processing plant in Mississippi, where they will be harvested for fish oils and used in pet foods, Marraccini said.

Here’s a video about the tournament.

To learn more about the threat that Asian carp pose to the east and south check out

Asian Carp Also Threaten Southern Fisheries.

Monday
Mar112013

Carp Czar Focuses on Carp Threat to Ohio, Mississippi Rivers --- Finally

Carp caught at Kentucky Lake. Photo by Steve McCadams.

Activist Angler has been sounding the alarm for months about Asian carp spreading up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, as well as east into the Cumberland, Tennessee and Ohio systems.

Finally, our federal carp czar, John Goss, has taken note that the Great Lakes aren't the only waters at risk. Isn’t that reassuring?

"Attacking the carp populations in the Ohio and Mississippi rivers needs to be our focus over the next few years," he said recently. "With very limited funding, we haven't been able to jump into it. Hopefully, Congress will recognize that, and we're working with federal staff people to get appropriations.”

Cleveland.com reports that Asian carp have reached Ohio waters of the Ohio River, and moved up the Little Miami River near Cincinnati.  It adds, “The infestation is so bad in Kentucky and Barkley lakes in Kentucky that the first commercial netting contest ever held will target the carp on March 12-13, with a $20,000 top prize. A commercial fisherman in that region told state officials he recently caught 36,000 pounds of carp - in just six hours.”

Goss said commercial netting will be the first wave of defense.

"Commercial fishing is working well on the Illinois River, keeping the bulk of the carp population about 100 miles away from the electric barriers (in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal). This year, netters took 60,000 Asian carp, which means we have a lot less pressure from fish swimming up to the barrier situation."

Following are just a few of articles that Activist Angler has posted to sound the alarm about Asian carp spreading north, east, and south:

Asian Carp also Threaten Southern Fisheries

Minnesota Anglers Urge Action to Stop Asian Carp Invasion

Asian Carp Using New Route to Threaten Minnesota Fisheries

Wednesday
Oct312012

Asian Carp Also Threaten Southern Fisheries

A commercial fisherman caught this 12-pound silver carp on one of his trotlines in Kentucky Lake. Photo by Steve McCadams.

Almost all of the publicity regarding Asian carp has been directed at the Great Lakes and what those invasive species might do to the sport fishery there if they gain entrance.

But anglers in Tennessee and Kentucky believe that bighead and silver carp already are harming fisheries in the Tennessee and Cumberland River systems, and they say that federal and state officials aren’t doing enough to combat the problem.

“The commercial fishermen here on the main lake where I live are having a difficult time catching bait in their cast nets for their trotline bait,” said Jim Perry, a long-time guide on Kentucky Lake.

“Bass fishermen are telling me that the huge schools of shad are hard to locate on the main lake as compared to years past.”

And guide Darrell Van Vactor reported similar observations. Tailrace striper fisheries, he said, “are all but gone.

“The gizzard shad and the sauger, one in abundance below all these dams, are all but gone as well.”

Perry added that evidence isn’t yet definitive regarding the impact that Asian carp are having. “We need answers so we can get ourselves organized to do whatever we can to control Asian carp,” he said. “Sticking our head in the sand isn’t the answer. We need answers now.”

Bobby Wilson, fisheries chief for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), sympathizes with anglers.

“They should be concerned,” he said.

In 2011, his agency received many reports of carp in Kentucky and Barkley lakes and, this year, even more.  Additionally, carp have been seen as far up the Cumberland River as Old Hickory and as far up the Tennessee River as Fort Loudoun Lake near Knoxville.

“The only thing that our biologists have not documented yet is if they are reproducing in our waters yet,” Wilson said. “We have received reports from anglers and commercial fishermen that they are seeing schools of small Asian carp, but we have not collected them yet. However, I suspect that they have reproduced to some extent.”

Right now, the fisheries chief added, TWRA is “still looking at solutions” in conjunction with other state and federal resource managers through groups such as the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resources Association (MICRA).  A management and control plan has been developed, he added, “but implementation of the plan has not taken place, even though there is a lot of interest from some key politicians.”

That’s because federal money has yet to be appropriated. “A lot of federal money is being spent in preventing them (Asian carp) from entering the Great Lakes, but very little is being spent on trying to control Asian carp in areas where they already exist,” said Wilson, adding that “something needs to be done now.”

One possibility is encouraging and possibly even subsidizing commercial fishing for the invasives.  “The cog in the wheel is adequate funding to construct processing facilities at key locations across the Mississippi River basin,” the fisheries chief said.

Steve MaCadams, another guide, agrees with that as one strategy to combat Asian Carp. “The market is here, I’m told, but getting the fish from the lake to the processing plan needs to be a short step and, right now, we have no processing plants in area,” he said.

“At stake is a very important sport fishery here that is crying out for help,” he added. “But the cries are falling on deaf ears to the degree that active plans are not being implemented as a clear and present danger lurks.”

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Commercial harvest of bighead carp.

More About the Carp Invasion

Guide Steve McCadams is concerned about the following:

1. The public is not educated or really aware of the ramifications that encroaching Asian carp now thriving in our waterways will do to the overall sport fishery.

There are some signs and red flags beginning to pop up but generally speaking, the average angler isn’t fully aware of what negative impact lies ahead if these fish continue to go unleashed. He has seen and heard YouTube videos of the clowning when folks up north shoot them with bows or shotguns but isn’t aware of the silent danger lurking below that not only can harm boaters from clashes but silently take away the quality of the fishery he now enjoys.

2. Asian carp are abundant here and increasing at an alarming rate with no control programs in place from our states’ (Kentucky and Tennessee) fisheries divisions that seem to be moving way too slow in addressing this scenario.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife head of fisheries Ron Brooks has taken the lead between our two states and is attempting to bring more awareness plus implement some programs to rid our lakes of these nonnative fish. Having come from Illinois he has some background in the battle with Asian carp and I have been impressed with his efforts to highlight this growing problem. But actually getting something going with the two state agencies, TVA, USFWS, seems to be sluggish at best, while the Asian carp are marching into our rivers and lakes like Sherman went through Atlanta.

This “wait and see” atmosphere does not sit too well with some of us who know would could be lost.

Steps need to be taken here quickly to combat the problem before it gets worse and we start seeing further degradation of our sport fishery which is an industry in itself that generates millions of dollars in tourism.

Kentucky Lake has long been known as the Crappie Capitol. Our bass fishery in the last few years has been fantastic, a likely beneficiary of aquatic vegetation (milfoil, hydrilla, spiny leaf) that has come on. But the building blocks lie in the forage base, namely shad. If we lose the foundation of a good forage base, our bass, crappie, bluegill, sauger, catfish, etc. will begin to suffer soon.

 3. What needs to be done 

After attending several meetings, reading a lot, and trading numerous e-mails with fisheries biologists it appears to me that total eradication is a long way off and that some research is being done on that but that’s another realm altogether.

Urgent attention is needed here. From my observation it appears the commercial fishery will need to be in the equation as establishing a processing plant which will purchase fish from commercial fishermen will help control the expanding population which at this time has no enemies.

Right now, commercial fishermen here cannot get much per pound so they can’t pursue the Asian carp as the fish is delicate and must be flash frozen in the marketing process. The market is there I’m told but getting the fish from the lake to the processing plant needs to be a short step and right now we have no processing plants in the area.

So, fishermen cannot transport the fish for a very long distance before the meat spoils. States need to come together and subsidize the formation of a processing plant which will, in turn, bring the commercial fishery into the battle of carp control. However, that endeavor has been slow in the making.

There is the hurdle of commercial netting and the sport fishermen to clear. However, I think the state fisheries departments can work that out if education and public relations were handled properly.

In summary I don’t think our fisheries biologists realize how abundant the Asian carp are in our waters of Kentucky/Barkley Lake or the impending problem. The carp problems don’t stop or start at state lines either. So, both TVA and USFWS should also better address the problems and work with states in the battle but that doesn’t seem to be happening.