Wildlife officials are employing a growing number of tools in the war against invasive Asian carp, including electrofishing.
Workers with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife used a so-called “stunboat” at Barkley Dam yesterday to shock and scoop silver carp. The species is the most visible of the group of four species known in America as Asian carp.
The fish are temporarily stunned by electric current in the water and scooped up by nets. Some fish do swim away before being captured while others end up with damaged vertebrae from muscle cramping caused by the current.
Officials have been warning for years about the fast-spreading species and their negative impact on ecosystems, tourism and local economies. With no natural predators in U.S. waters, Asian carp have the capacity to deplete food sources for native species and almost completely displace them. Silver carp are also easily spooked by noise or movement and have caused injuries to boaters and watersports participants.
The newest effort to fight back is a bio-acoustic fish fence (described by its creators as a “Wall of Sound”) under construction at Barkley. It will create a lighted sheet of bubbles containing extremely loud sound bursts believed to repel carp. It’s a combined federal and state project with experts nationwide waiting to monitor its effectiveness. States like Kentucky and Tennessee have also incentivized commercial fishing and production to cut down on numbers with a number of area restaurants now carrying carp products.
Several politicians, including Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff and Sen. Lamar Alexander, have been asking for more federal funds to back the effort to keep the carp out of state waterways.