Asian carp

Federal Officials End Controversial Asian Carp Harvest Method In Kentucky Waters

Federal officials will not return to Kentucky to perform a seasonal tracking and harvest of Asian carp after a request by a county official.

Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White wrote a letter to U.S. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this fall, asking to prevent the U.S. Geological Survey from returning with its “modified unified method.”

The method involves teams of boaters placing a net across the mouth of a bay, and then using sounds, lights and channels made from smaller nets to force the carp into a smaller portion of the bay for removal. White said it has proven to be less effective than other methods some commercial fishermen are already using in the area and far more costly. In addition, he said the method destroys habitat for native game fish species.

The USGS had tried the modified unified method, along with a depletion study, to determine how the Asian carp population is being affected in Kentucky Lake, an impoundment of the Tennessee River.

White said December 9 that he has received word from McConnell’s office that the modified unified method will not return to Kentucky waters. He has also met with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

“They will be doing monitoring of the fish that are already tagged, so you may see a single buoy at the entrance of a bay here and there,” he said. “Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen.  We are focused on making sure the money from the federal government for carp removal work is spent wisely!”

Instead of the modified unified method, White has said he is in favor of increasing subsidies to commercial fishermen working to remove the carp. Additionally, he has highlighted the experimental work of one fisherman, Wade Robbins, who has devised a method he calls trap netting to remove carp from the waters of Lake Barkley, an impoundment of the Cumberland River that is connected to Kentucky Lake via a canal.

Robbins has worked with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to perfect the trap netting method over the past year. Robbins and his crews set nets in the water. A crane then lifts the carp out with a smaller, square net with a trap door in the bottom to dump them into a bag, which is monitored so that any game fish may be sorted out and returned to the water.

White said on the day he watched Robbins work, the crew caught 27,000 pounds of carp in four hours. The modified unified method used on Kentucky Lake caught 79,000 Asian carp over the course of two to three weeks and cost roughly $1 million. It involved teams working together in several boats. Last year, a depletion study using the same methods resulted in the harvest of 38,000 pounds of carp, although the depletion study’s goal was primarily to determine the method’s effectiveness and not to remove carp.

White noted that because the trap netting method is still experimental, Robbins and his crew are not eligible to receive current state subsidies, although he has worked to put a local subsidy in place in Lyon County. He is also working to expand state subsidies for commercial anglers harvesting Asian carp within the state’s boundaries.