Over 10 million pounds of invasive carp removed from waterways through Tennessee program

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — More than 10 million pounds of invasive carp have been removed from regional waterways thanks to a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency program.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Asian Carp Harvest Incentive Program, which began in September 2018, gives incentives to wholesale fish dealers and commercial fishers to harvest the invasive Asian carp species. The 10 million pounds of carp were removed from Kentucky and Barkley reservoirs.

“Commercial harvest is a key strategy to defend our waters from the impacts and expansion of invasive carp,” said Cole Harty, TWRA Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator. “The other key strategy to prevent the spread of carp to waters upstream is deterrents.”

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.

The TWRA has been testing the BioAcoustic Fish Fence (BAFF) at Barkley Dam in Kentucky as they continue to monitor the carp population in West Tennessee. A release from the agency said preliminary results of the testing appear promising.

“Though no deterrent is expected to be 100 percent effective, even moderate levels of deterrence can significantly reduce the number of fish moving upstream through locks,” Harty said. “Deterrents, when coupled with commercial harvest near the source of carp immigration, is the best strategy we have to prevent the spread of carp to waters upstream.”

The Tennessee Valley Authority said they plan to place barriers against the invasive species at 10 lock and dam sites along the Tennessee River. There have been reports of Asian carp being found as far east as Anderson and Knox counties. The 10 proposed barrier sites would be at Kentucky, Pickwick, Wilson, Wheeler, Guntersville, Nickajack, Chickamauga, Watts Bar and Fort Loudoun dams.

The TWRA, state and federal partners and invasive species experts agree that the barrier deterrents are an urgent need. The release states that the barriers would provide benefits to the entire Tennessee River system, including most upstream reservoirs.

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