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State looks for ways to slow the spread of Asian Carp into Tennessee waters

US Fish and Wildlife Service


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The invasive Asian Carp has arrived in Middle Tennessee waters.

State Chief of Fisheries Frank Fiss says the carp can now be found in the Cumberland River system, including Cheatham and Old Hickory Lakes.

The carp escaped into the Mississippi River system from fish farms in the 1970s. Local game fish have since been completely wiped out in some locations by the carp.

Chief Fiss says Tennessee’s efforts have slowed the spread of the car, but not stopped it. He says so far the carp aren’t noticeably impacting the game fish favored by Tennessee anglers.

But commercial fisherman Mike Luffman is not optimistic.  He fishes the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers and says over the past five years Luffman seen an explosion of Asian Carp. He has no trouble catching several thousand pound of carp a day.

“It’s like they just come out of nowhere. They just multiplied so quick. I hate to see what it’s going to be like in another five years.”

Luffman sells the carp to fish markets in Tennessee and Kentucky. Fisheries Chief Fiss says the state is hoping more commercial fisherman will join in and keep the carp in check.

“The interest in harvesting them is growing. There’s more activity towards harvesting them, which is all good. And all of that is drive by the market. They’re not going harvest these fish if there’s not somewhere to sell them.

Fiss says a handful of Tennessee restaurants serve the carp now, but he’s hoping more will join in. Right now most of the carp caught in Tennessee waters are shipped back to Asian markets.