The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is tackling the state’s growing problem with Asian carp in a new way: pitting fishermen against each other in a contest to catch the most of the invasive species.
It’s called Carp Madness. For two days next month, teams of commercial fishermen will descend on two Western Kentucky lakes and fill their boats with pounds of Asian Carp. First prize for the most pounds of carp is $10,000.
Asian carp are an invasive species that have spread throughout rivers and lakes in the Midwest and often out-compete native species for resources. Once they’ve established themselves in an ecosystem, they’re nearly impossible to eradicate.
Fisheries Director Ron Brooks says this is a good way to show commercial fishermen there is a market for the troublesome carp.
“The only people who can take out enough of them to make a difference is the commercial industry,” he said. “But if they don’t have the impetus to go after these fish then it doesn’t really matter.”
State officials hope that events like Carp Madness will help thin out the carp population. Another possible solution is convincing Kentucky chefs to include carp on their menus as a local delicacy—wildlife officials say it’s tastier than catfish.
If you haven’t seen a video of Asian carp jumping yet, this one’s a good one. But note: during Carp Madness, fishermen will be using nets, not cross bows.