Fish House Contract Will Boost KY Asian Carp Price
By Tim Brockwell
PADUCAH - Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin was in Paducah Tuesday afternoon to announce a new effort in the war against the invasive Asian carp that may create new financial opportunities for area anglers.

Bevin and other state officials were at West Kentucky Community and Technical College Tuesday afternoon to reveal a new public-private partnership which allocates state funds to boost the price paid for the prolific fish. Wickliffe-based Kentucky Fish Center, LLC has been awarded a contract to operate a fish house that will buy Kentucky-caught carp at a guaranteed price of 19 cents per pound, which it will sell daily at auction. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife will oversee the auctions, and will pay an additional five cents per pound, along with up to $4 million in loans and incentives.

The program includes a $734,000 secured loan for fixed assets to assist the fish house with start-up costs. Performance-based incentives of $570,000 to $700,000 a year will also be awarded if the escalating yearly harvest goals of 5 to 20 million pounds of fish are met. The secured loan would be forgiven in 2024 if the 20 million pound goal is met that year. State boat registration fees will pay for the project.

Angie Yu, who operates Two Rivers Fishery in Wickliffe, made the announcement. She will also own and run the new fish center. Yu said the new partnership is a step forward in the constant battle against the carp.

"Asian carp pose a serious threat to our tourism, to our ecology and our economy. I think this program, this partnership, is an encouraging step in the right direction." Yu said, adding that the current average market price for Asian carp is about 20 cents per pound.

Bevin lauded everyone involved in the project for their work in making the plan a reality, saying the state has explored other ideas to deal with the fish, such as burying millions of pounds of it every year. He said ultimately the current plan to incentivize harvesting of the carp was the best choice.

"We had an original proposal where the government would have solved this by taking $3.5 million a year to bury tons and tons of fish, but the expectation was at its peak we might have been able to move as many as 5 million pounds," Bevin said. "For a fraction of that, we're gonna subsidize what the market is already bearing by giving fishermen an extra five cents a pound."

Bevin said the new partnership presents a big financial opportunity to motivated fishermen, saying a small crew could easily make six-figures fishing for Asian carp.

"A two person crew could make, if you fished 240 days a year, you could make $200,000. This is a lot of money. If you enjoy fishing it's a way you could make a lot of money doing it." Bevin said.

A local commercial fisherman who attended the meeting disputed Bevin's estimate, saying it's very difficult to make a profit harvesting the carp at current prices.

"There's nobody that's making any money just fishing for these carp. By the time you buy a boat, a truck and nets that cost $300 a piece that are torn up after a couple weeks, you can't make any profit." He said.

"This is a good point. This is a voice of reason and life experience," Bevin replied. "But here's what I also know, if the market bears 17, 18, 19, 20 cents a pound, and the state's putting another five cents on it, for 23 to 25 cents a pound there are people that will find a way to monetize this."

Asian carp, originally brought into the country to control aquatic weeds and algae blooms in fish farms, have spread into the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois rivers, as well as Kentucky and Barkley lakes. A single large Asian carp may produce up to a million eggs every year, and can consume 5 to 40 percent of its body weight each day.

Published 06:05 PM, Tuesday Oct. 09, 2018
Updated 03:18 PM, Saturday Oct. 13, 2018

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