Asian carp have become a serious problem in the US, leading one state to craft a creative solution for dealing with the invasive species. The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources started using “shocking” boats that produce an electrical current that stuns the fish. Then, the Asian carp float to the surface and can be easily scooped up.
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Asian carp are an invasive species, according to a report by CNN. They were introduced to the United States in the 1970s by catfish farmers.
Carp populations can grow rapidly, leading the fish to inundated the Mississippi River watershed as well as the Illinois and Missouri Rivers. In order to support their growth, the carp devour food, reducing what is available for native species.
“They were allowed to bring Asian and silver carp in to take care of algal blooms, and they used the fish and sold them to the ethnic markets, like Chinese markets,” said the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ fisheries division director Ron Brooks.
“What they didn’t realize is that these things would escape the ponds and get into the river system quickly. It took 30 years for them to get there,” Brooks continued. “They were brought here for a good reason, but the folks who brought them had no idea that it would cause such a terrible problem.”
Kentucky decided to take action against the fish, enlisting assistance from boats that can produce an electric current to stun the carp.
The fish come to the water’s surface once the current is applied, making it easier to collect them. In the video, released by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, countless Asian carp can be seen leaping into the air as the current passes through the waters at Barkley Dam.
Using electricity to stun fish is a common practice. It allows the fish to be easily counted – to measure the population – and tagged. The shock doesn’t kill the fish. Instead, it only leaves them temporarily stunned.
“It’s just to give folks an idea of how many fish we’re dealing with below the dam,” said Brooks of the footage. “We collect and try to distribute to them to buyers.”
Once stunned, these carp were harvested. The state then tries to sell them to buyers who can use the Asian carp to make fish bait, fertilizer, or food products for human consumption.