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