The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife has a new plan to use a traditional Chinese fishing technique to reduce invasive Asian Carp.
Asian Carp are a real nuisance in Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in Western Kentucky. They can eat up to 40 percent of their body weight every day and have longer spawning seasons than many native species, said Rob Brooks, aquatic nuisance species program director with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“And what happens when you’re that efficient and you can grow fast, those fish out-compete their predators very quickly,” Brooks said. “So we’re searching for some more efficient ways of mass-harvesting Asian Carp.”
After watching a similar program in Illinois, Brooks has opted to test out the so-called “modified unified fishing method” in Kentucky Lake. Essentially, researchers will set out a series of nets, then use sound to corral the Asian carp into smaller and smaller areas.
“The good thing about this system is the sound itself, the native species aren’t affected by the sound itself,” Brooks said.
Chinese fishermen have used the method for hundreds — if not thousands — of years, Brooks said. They set out miles of nets and pound the sides of their boats to harvest fish in places like the Yangtze River, one of the longest rivers in the world.
Kentucky researchers plan to use smaller nets, underwater speakers and electrofishing to herd the Asian Carp. This is the first time the technique will be used in Kentucky and researchers estimate they’ll catch a million pounds of Asian Carp in their first attempt.
Once caught, researchers will use fish pumps to put them in large net pens until they’re ready to be harvested. Brooks said the harvested fish will be sold for research, fishmeal and other commercial purposes.
“There’s a way to filet them you can get what’s called carp wings. They’re like fish sticks that are about an inch square and about six inches long on an average fish,” Brooks said. “You fry them up like catfish and you won’t go back to catfish.”
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife plans to test the method beginning in February. If the concept works, Brooks said the department plans to incorporate it into their program.