The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Friday to lift the weekend ban on commercial fishing on Kentucky and Barkley lakes, and also to allow anyone with a valid fishing license to sell Asian carp. This emergency resolution will go in front of the Kentucky LRC in three weeks for a final vote, and if it passes there it will become active.
Prior to this meeting, Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White made a call to the public to voice their opinion on the possibility of allowing 7-day commercial fishing weeks and he said he received around 200 emails about the topic, with only three opposed to the change.
He forwarded all of these messages to Fish and Wildlife for consideration.
One of the main concerns about lifting the restriction has been from those worried commercial fishing nets would interfere with recreational boaters.
White said there are several safeguards put in place to make sure boaters don't run into these nets.
"One of the things that we've done is the money that we raised for the foundation (the Carp Harvest Fund), they have spent some of it to order, I think, 40 buoys that are supposed to be used to clearly mark -- it's got a buoy and a flag on it -- clearly mark where these nets are," he said.
White also said if nets are placed less than 3 feet below the lake surface, fishermen are required to stay with them.
He said those placed more than 3 feet under the surface are usually low enough that boats will have no issue clearing them.
He expects Fish and Wildlife to produce a list of safeguards for boaters to let them know what to look for in order to avoid the nets.
There are not any restrictions on where in the lakes commercial fishermen are allowed to fish, but White said he trusts these fishermen to use their best judgment during times when the lake is heavily trafficked.
If the second resolution is passed, it will mean anyone with a valid sport fishing license will be able to sell Asian carp.
Though it will still require a commercial license in order to use nets, fishermen will be able to sell those caught through bow fishing, and even ones that just jump into their boat.
White will head to Washington, D.C., on March 16 in an attempt to garner federal funding to continue the war on carp.
He said they plan to ask for $12 million the first year (hopefully the 2020 budget cycle) to be used for subsidies for fishermen, nets, ice machines, marketing, transportation, research, and fish barriers at the dams along the Tennessee and Cumberland River basins, with just under $9 million in funding each year after that.
These funds will be used to implement carp control strategies in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.
White explained that, while this sounds like a large sum of money, the federal government has provided hundreds-of-millions of dollars to fight Asian carp in the Great Lakes, while the entire Ohio Basin (which covers seven states) shares around $600,000 to battle the invasive species.
A town hall meeting hosted by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is slated for March 21 at 7 p.m. at the Lyon Convention Center in Eddyville for those who wish to learn more about efforts to battle Asian Carp.
Presenters at the meeting will include Fisheries Director Ron Brooks, Nuisance Species Biologist Jessica Morris, and Western Fisheries District Program Coordinator Adam Martin.