Preliminary results show that an experimental “fish barrier” installed to prevent invasive Asian carp from entering Barkley Lake in western Kentucky is effective. A local official who has fought invasive species for years is touting the initial data as a potential “game changer”.
The BioAcoustic Fish Barrier – installed along the bottom of the Cumberland River under the Barkley Dam by US Fish and Wildlife Resources in 2019 – uses a combination of light, sound and bubbles to deter Asian carp from entering the Barkley Lake. The sound is diffused to the fish through a “bubble wall”.
Data shared last week by the “War on Carp” advocacy group shows that 254 fish were tagged and tracked from November 1, 2020 to February 13, 2021. Of these fish, 57 crossed the barrier when it was extinguished; only four crossed the barrier when it was turned on. In addition, the fish approached the barrier 3,181 times when it was off; the fish approached the barrier 612 times when it was on.
Lyon County Executive Judge Wade White, who founded the ‘War on Carp’ group, said he was using early results to push US Senator Mitch McConnell’s office to secure funds to install additional barriers .
“I think we’ve reversed a lot of the issues we’ve seen. Our tourism is back. There are people who go on the water and don’t even see a single jump, ”White said. “It was unheard of three years ago.”
White says the region is making progress in controlling Asian carp thanks to the experimental barrier and local fishermen, who receive a grant to remove the invasive carp from the lakes. Along with the “fish fence,” federal and state officials tried experimental methods such as modified nets to remove Asian carp from the lakes.
Asian carps are crowding out native species and disrupting the food chain in lakes, raising concerns about the disruption of native habitats.
The Barkley Dam fish fence is part of a three-year trial of the technology.
A spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Fisheries and Wildlife said federal officials presented preliminary results of a fence a few months ago.