Murray State Professor Receives Grant to Study Asian Carp, Benefit Commercial Fishing

Jan 6, 2016

A local fisherman holds an Asian carp
Credit Whitney Jones, WKMS, cropped

A Murray State University professor is spearheading a study on the movements of Asian carp in Kentucky Lake.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is providing MSU with a grant of just under $60,000 for the project. Dr. Tim Spier says the study is unique because most research on Asian carp has been done on large, open rivers and less information is available on the carp in large reservoirs like Kentucky Lake.

“We are very interested in finding out if the fish are traveling between the rivers and the lake, if they’re coming through the locks at the dam. We’re interested to see how far up the river they go. We are very interested to see if it’s a separate population in the lake versus in the Ohio River and the Mississippi River,” Spier said.

Spier says it’s important to gather more information on Asian carp to have a better chance at controlling the invasive fish, which could negatively impact native species.   

KFW Fisheries Program Coordinator Neal Jackson says researchers will surgically implant sonic tags in the bellies of 50 silver carp, a species of Asian carp. Receivers will pick up the fish’s location as they swim by, allowing researchers to track their movements. Jackson says the goal is to provide commercial fishermen with data that will help them catch more Asian carp.

“They can overpopulate an area fairly quickly and as a result potentially impact native species. What our interest is, is to reduce that impact as much as we can and the only tool available to us right now is commercial fishing or removing Asian carp from the water,” Jackson said.

Jackson says he hopes the initial project will spark interest in funding for further research.