Coronavirus Delays Chinese Investors’ Visit To Kentucky Fisheries Park
The spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in China is not having an effect on Kentucky’s exports of Asian carp, but it is preventing Chinese investors from visiting a fisheries park under construction.
The International Fisheries Industrial Park is being built near Wickliffe, Ky., next to carp processor Two Rivers Fisheries. Lots have already been sold to several Chinese-based businesses, including those that will use fish waste products for fertilizer and purveyors of smoked and dried food products.
Angie Yu, president of Two Rivers Fisheries, the initial carp-related business located at the park, said two groups of investors had been scheduled to visit Wickliffe to talk over construction plans in February, but both had to cancel their travel.
“They are stopped by the virus,” she said.
She said that for now they are doing what business they can remotely, including via lengthy telephone calls, and that they will postpone their visits.
However, she said, some travel expenses were not refundable, including the cost of airplane tickets from Chicago, Ill., to Paducah, Ky., that they had just bought February 12.
“They lost some money,” Yu said.
The virus hasn’t affected carp exports, however, Yu said. Two Rivers exports the invasive carp, harvested mainly from the Mississippi and Ohio rivers as well as Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, as a delicacy to 11 countries. The main markets are in eastern Europe and the Middle East. Yu said tariffs and other market issues meant the company has not recently exported to China.
Construction of the fisheries park is moving ahead but doing so slowly, both due to delays in obtaining necessary permits and because of rainy weather, Ballard County Judge-Executive Todd Cooper said.
“We just finally got permitting to do anything at that site in the last couple of weeks,” he said, noting that it took 11 months to receive necessary archaeological, endangered species and wetlands evaluations and permits.
“We finally got it all done, and now we are ready to begin,” he said.
Morrison Contractors won the roughly $30,000 bid on a road contract. The county has also hired HDR Engineering Inc. of Paducah to help with plans to extend water lines.
“Hopefully that plan will be ready fairly quickly on water and sewer (lines) and then go out for bid on construction,” Cooper said.
United Fisheries Group, which is based in China, originally planned to begin construction this month, but wet weather has also delayed the company in beginning on-site work, Cooper said. However, he added, since that company’s site has frontage along Ky. 286 and existing utilities on-site, he did not expect it to take long before construction begins.
Eleven agencies, mostly those associated with Asian carp but also a Masonic lodge and a recycling center, have either closed on land or signed purchase agreements at the fisheries park, and Cooper said once roads and utilities are in and buildings start going on up that he believes interest will grow on the five or six remaining usable lots.
Coronavirus stories in the March 23 edition of The Waterways Journal: