Federal funding gives $25M to fight Asian carp in Tennessee, Cumberland River basins

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FILE – In this June 13, 2012, file photo, Asian carp, jolted by an electric current from a research boat, jump from the Illinois River near Havana, Ill. Sport fish have declined significantly in portions of the Upper Mississippi River infested with Asian carp, apparently confirming fears about the invaders’ threat to native species, according to a newly released study. Analysis of more than 20 years of population data suggests the carp are out-competing fish prized by anglers, such as yellow perch, bluegill, and black and white crappie, the report said. (AP Photo/John Flesher, File)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Wildlife Federation is hailing the passage of new federal legislation that will provide $25 million to fight the invasive Asian carp species in the Tennessee and Cumberland River Basins.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 was passed by Congress, as part of a $1.4 trillion omnibus package, late Monday. It will allocate $25 million to projects to manage and prevent the spread of Asian carp in the Tennessee and Cumberland River Basins.

There are four types of Asian carp: bighead, silver, black and grass. Experts say the species threatens to disrupt aquatic ecosystems and starve out native species due to their ability to out-compete native species for food like plankton.

“Federal legislators have stepped up again to fund Tennessee’s fight against Asian carp, which are destroying native species and harming local economies,” Michael Butler, CEO of Tennessee Wildlife Federation, said.

The act also establishes an Asian Carp Eradication Program in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The program will be allocated $4 million a year for 2021 through 2025 with priority given to states in the Tennessee and Cumberland River watersheds.

A release from the TWF said the $25 million could fund 3-5 barriers using sound, light, bubbles and other technology to stop the fish from moving further through the water systems. One such barrier is currently being tested at the Barkley Dam, separating the Cumberland River Basin from the Ohio River.

“Tennessee Wildlife Federation is proud of its contributions to securing these funds and extends a thank you to the many groups and people involved in this legislation, particularly Senators (Lamar) Alexander and (Mitch) McConnell as well as Congressmen (David) Kustoff, (Tim) Burchett, (John) Rose, (Phil) Roe, (Jim) Cooper and (Steve) Cohen — and their dedicated staff,” said Butler. “The Federation has been working with leaders across the Southeast and creating a place for collaboration that helped lead to this funding win.”

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency asks if you live in East Tennessee and you catch an Asian carp to freeze it or put it on ice and contact them. If you’re unable to store the fish, they ask that you take a photo with the fish in hand and send it their way.

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