NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has signed an executive order establishing a commission that will provide advice on mitigating the invasion of Asian Carp into the state’s lakes and river systems, according to a news release.
Not only do these carp threaten to starve out native fish and upend aquatic ecosystems, but this species of carp are known to jump in numbers and can cause serious injuries to boaters.
Asian Carp were first imported to the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s.
They get into Tennessee and Kentucky Lakes from the Ohio River by swimming through the locks at dams when barges and other boat traffic are locking through.
“What we have is an immigration problem from the Ohio River,” explained Frank Fiss, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s Chief of Fisheries, “The more fish we can take out of Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, the fewer are available go upstream.”
“There are some barrier options that the Tennessee Valley Authority and other partners including TWRA are considering,” said Fiss, “We’re in that process right now. So that’s a pretty exciting time to get to that point that we’re working with the TVA on that. Another thing we’ve done that we’re doing is working with commercial fishermen to incentivize them to continue harvesting Asian Carp. Since we’ve been working with them, they’ve removed over 4 million pounds of Asian Carp from Kentucky and Barkley Lakes.”
As far as placing barriers in the locks to stop them from entering, officials in Kentucky have already been experimenting with a “bubbles, light, and sound” barrier that would deter fish.
There are also electrical barriers, but they can be expensive. One barrier that the TWRA is interested in is a “Carbon Dioxide Barrier.”
“In this case, we would set up tanks of carbon dioxide to pump it into the water to a concentration where it would push the fish out of the lock each time the lock is in use,” explained Fiss, “So as a barge comes in, we would have already cleaned the lockout with CO2.”
The TWRA is looking forward to working with the commission and sharing ideas on eliminating this invasive species.