Standing on the bank of Lake Barkley, you would never know that a huge problem looms out under the water. Three species of carp are reproducing at alarming rates, and have taken over the ecosystem. Bighead, silver, and grass carp, all native to Asia, are doing immense damage to other native fish species by taking their food, and taking up space. The adult species of this carp has the ability to produce over one million eggs per large adult each year.
Recently, to show how large of an issue this has become, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources used boats to shock the water stunning the Asian carp. Video online shows hundreds of carp jumping out of the water, and then floating motionless. This was done to help bring awareness to a new idea on combating the issue called BAFF. Bio-acoustic fish fence (BAFF) technology was invented and has been used in Europe, and was originally designed to steer migrating salmon back into main river channels. The BAFF technology is made by the United Kingdom based Fish Guidance Systems, LTD (FGS). BAFF technology is now being installed on Barkley Dam, and this is the first time it will be used on carp.
The bio-acoustic fish fence is a bubble, light, and sound barrier which researchers are hoping deters the Asian carp from entering Lake Barkley. The BAFF system is currently being installed, with plans to have the barrier completed by October 2019. The progress was slowed because of high water over the summer months due to large amounts of rain. Catching the carp to reduce their population will still be key in combating this issue.
Wade White, activist with waroncarp.com and Judge Executive for Lyon County, says that if the barrier is successful, they will need a total of nine locally. When asked what was being done before the barrier system to combat the Asian Carp, White says, "Little, as Congress was not involved, so very little money is available to handle this by Fish and Wildlife." White is seeking a total of 25 million dollars for funding, for 24 states. This is not only a local issue, as this invasive carp species takes over and knows no bounds. Asian carp started in Arkansas and have ended up in several states including Kentucky, Illinois and the Great Lakes area.
Locally in Kentucky, several politicians have voiced their support of the new barrier system. Wade White says, "Congressman Comer was the first on board. Senator McConnell is really working on our behalf, and Rand Paul is involved." White wants the public to know that the War on Carp needs your help. White says, "We need everyone to contact your legislators and lend your support to getting the money allocated to win this battle. It's not over yet, we can still win." You can find the War on Carp on Facebook or their website waroncarp.com to find out ways you can help.
Photo (attached) caption: The BAFF system is currently being installed at Barkley Dam.