9.5 Million Pounds of Invasive Carp Removed From Kentucky By Commercial Fishermen

by Jonathan Howard

The state of Kentucky is targeting invasive Asian carp with the help of commercial fishing. A 2013 program has led the way for these big numbers.

9.5 million pounds of carp were taken up out of the waters of Kentucky in 2021 alone. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with many other states, struggle with these species. Populations of Asian carp can squeeze out local and native wildlife. These fish are the definition of invasive with female carp producing up to 1 million eggs a year.

If you have ever seen videos of fish jumping into boats and hitting people out on the water, then it is likely these invasive carp. Kentucky started the Asian Carp Harvest Program almost ten years ago. It allows these commercial operations to fish in previously restricted areas. Clearing these fish out of native waters is very important. Especially in the western end of the state, in the Jackson Purchase Region.

Just a short drive away from Murray State University (Go Racers!) and spanning a wide swath of land in Marshall County, Land Between the Lakes is a wonderful National Reservation area. Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkely are the two major bodies of water. Many folks in the area from Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, and Missouri, plus more have endless fun out on the waters.

Great fishing, great views, and unfortunately, a whole lot of Asian carp. So, it makes sense that 8.5 million of the 9.5 million pounds were taken out of those two bodies of water alone. Since 1966, when Barkley Dam was built, Lake Barkley has turned the area into an environmental safe haven. While there, visitors can check out the various trails, paths, campsites, and even the buffalo and elk reservation. Before that, Kentucky Lake was created in 1944.

Department of Wildlife Says Invasive Carp ‘Detrimental’

When it comes to this issue, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife takes it very seriously. The impact of these invasive carp can be overwhelming if it gets out of hand. To put it bluntly, it is “detrimental to native species,” according to the department.

“They can out-compete native species for resources and some females are capable of producing over 1 million eggs annually, causing their numbers to grow at an alarming rate. Additionally, silver carp pose a danger to boaters due to the jumping behavior they exhibit when startled. As a result, this behavior can put them on a collision course with boaters causing injury to individuals and property,” the department wrote online.

So, the war on invasive carp continues. Kentucky is going to try to do what it can to remove as many as possible. With a new record of fish removed, the results are starting to look somewhat promising.