Asian carp are one of the largest threats facing Tennessee’s waters, fisheries, recreation, and local economies.
>>LEARN MORE: Asian carp in Tennessee’s waters
Tennessee Wildlife Federation has been working hard to fight the invasive species for years.
We’ve had wins along the way but this winter, our efforts paid off big! A $25 million appropriation to fight Asain carp was passed in Congress and signed by the president as part of the federal budget for fiscal year 2020.
Tennessee Wildlife Federation played a leadership role in securing this appropriation.
>>LEARN MORE: How the Federation turned its focus toward funding
The Federation brought together influential people and organizations from across the region and worked hand-in-hand with lawmakers to increase the old appropriation and make it available to Southeast states, including Tennessee.
The funding will be allocated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Funds will go into barriers that limit the fish’s movement, contract fishing and commercial fishing incentives, and research more ways to control Asian carp.
This is about 1% of what is needed to prevent the Asian Carp from getting into Watts Bar, Ft. Loudon, and Melton Hill lakes. This species has been studied since it escaped ponds in New Orleans and has spread throughout the Mississippi River system and its tributaries.
The time for study has passed; it is time to act. The installation of an electro-acoustic barrier in the Watts Bar Dam lock will halt their advance. Until the barrier is installed, the lock at Watts Bar needs to be closed to traffic to prevent the advancement of this invasive species into these upper TVA lakes. The only lake that is safe from their invasion is Norris, since Norris Dam does not have a lock.
Just like most environmental issues, the financial expenditure necessary to prevent a problem is usually a rather small fraction of the amount required to correct it. Once this species gets in these reservoir and changes the total ecological balance (outcompetes all other species of fish and replaces them), resulting in a collapse of recreational sports fishing and recreational water sports, it is questionable whether they can be controlled.
My earlier comment had an error on the percentage funding required. It should have read 10%.