Initiatives materializing in the 'War on Carp'

A large number of Asian Carp are corralled for harvest, pulled from waterways in the Mississippi and Ohio River basins. U.S. Senator McConnell announced last week the Unified Method, which is designed to capture a substantial amount of Asian Carp at a time, will be launched in Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkely. Photo by U.S. Geological Survey

Through the month of August the Kentucky Lake Vacationland/Lodging Association will pay commercial fishermen a by-the-pound subsidy to remove carp from both Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

From Aug. 1 through Aug. 30, the Lodging Association will pay two cents per pound on Asian carp caught from Kentucky Lake (Marshall County line north to the dam) and Lake Barkley (Trigg County line to the dam) in Kentucky, based on the net weight entered on the pink slip issued by Kentucky Fish Center in Eddyville. Participating commercial fishermen will be asked to present their pink slip which has been verified by Kentucky Fish Center with a documented fishing location before a check is issued.

The Lodging Association said $6,110 is the available funding for payouts, which was raised from the War on Carp Poker Run hosted in June.

"Several ideas have been tried: some successful, some not so much and others are in progress now," the statement reads in part. "Commercial fishermen have successfully been netting and removing thousands of pounds and selling them for both human and animal consumption. It is a very costly way of removing the fish. The state has offered the commercial fishing industry, harvesting from the lakes, a five-cent subsidy for each pound; as generous as that is, the Lodging Association voted to add the 2-cent subsidy based on the same method the state is using."

The Lodging Association said its overall goal is to help commercial fishermen combat the species that is trying to take over the lakes and rivers.

For more information, contact Christina Onnybecker at the Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitor's Bureau, who's available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. She may be reached by calling 270-252-6200 or visiting 93 Carroll Road in Draffenville.

Just last week, Lyon County announced an additional subsidy for select commercial fishermen; around $41,000 from a roughly $51,000 state economic development grant will go toward a 4-cent per pound subsidy for five fishermen selling their Asian carp through the Kentucky Fish Center.

Also last week, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to deploy the advanced "Unified Method" of fishing to remove the invasive species from Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.

McConnell visited Calvert City in May and brought with him a number of government officials from various organizations as well as members of the Trump aministration to meet with a number of local elected officials, community leaders and local media.

During that meeting, those attending discussed a number of measures aimed at actively addressing the Asian carp issue and the Unified Method floated to the top of ideas.

The Unified Method involves utilizing electronic technology to corral Asian carp into a specific location (in the bays) and to maximize the extraction. A spokesperson with the U.S. Geological Survey said during the May meeting that method is designed to extract only the Asian carp, leaving behind the native fish.

In approving his request, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson thanked McConnell for his leadership on the issue and said, "The Service is working with its partners, including the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), to prevent continued Asian Carp migration. Thank you for your continued leadership and support for collaborative efforts to address the threat of Asian carp in our Nation's waters."

McConnell said, "(This) announcement is a major step forward in Kentucky's War on Asian Carp. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has answered my call to deploy an aggressive strategy to combat these invasive and dangerous species in Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. With coordination among several agencies at all levels, we can help protect Kentucky's treasured waters, support our boaters and anglers and bolster Western Kentucky's $1.2 billion fishing economy."

According to a statement from McConnell's press secretary, McConnell helped secure $11 million in the recently enacted Fiscal Year 2019 Interior Appropriations bill for efforts to combat Asian crp in the Mississippi and Ohio River basins, including in Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkely. That appropriation is a $600,000 increase from the Fiscal Year 2018.

Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White, who instigated the aptly named War on Carp, expressed appreciation for McConnell and his support of the region.

"When I contacted Senator McConnell about the Asian carp crisis, he took the time to recognize the problem and used his experience and a hands-on approach to bring solutions. The 'Unified Method' for removing Asian carp is an exciting opportunity to make a real impact on this invasive species. If it weren't for the guidance and assistance we received from Senator McConnell, this never would have happened. I'm looking forward to seeing the impact this method can make and appreciate the attention and real solutions Majority Leader McConnell has brought to the Asian carp crisis."

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