Blocking and Tackling Invasive Carp
Invasive carp include four invasive species—silver, bighead, grass, and black carp—that were brought to the United States in the 1970s to help maintain ponds used for aquaculture. Introduced by flooding of aquaculture facilities in Arkansas, invasive carp have expanded their range throughout the Mississippi River basin into the Tennessee and Cumberland River systems. The species rapidly spread on its own and can be inadvertently spread by anglers mistaking them for baitfish.
Invasive carp reproduce quickly, have no natural predators, devour food sources native fish need, and devastate habitats. Invasive carp, which can grow up to 100 pounds, also threaten boaters’ safety. Silver carp are known to jump when disturbed by boats, striking passengers and causing serious injuries.
If left unaddressed, invasive carp will continue to spread throughout our waterways. As the species’ range expands, so will their destruction of native aquatic wildlife–from endangered mussels to bass and other sport fish. Invasive carp degrade the quality of waters, making them less attractive to the anglers that help fuel countless local economies across the state.
And as anglers stop buying licenses, the state wildlife agency loses critical funding for wildlife conservation of all types. Recreational boaters are also driven away by the threat of jumping silver carp, further damaging local economies.
Elected officials at the state and federal levels have collaborated with Tennessee Wildlife Federation to help shape and pass bills and budget requests design to blocking and tackling the threat. Acoustic barriers are needed at key locations to block the movement of invasive carp. And incentives for commercial fishermen are needed to get more tackle in the water to reduce the numbers of invasive carp.
But a greater response is needed from all sectors to meet this challenge. We must continue to ask our state and federal leaders to provide the tools and increased funding needed to block and remove invasive carp from our waters. Individuals can also take the Stop Invasive Carp Pledge to do their part to report and slow down this damaging invasive species.