Officials in Arkansas are going to try a new way of dealing with Asian carp—commercial fishing.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission opened a special commercial fishing season that will take place Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 on Lake Chicot. The lake is near Lake Village in the southeastern part of the state.
Normally, commercial fishermen don’t have access to the lake. During the special season, though, they’ll be able to keep any commercial fish caught, except alligator gar. All Asian carp must be removed from the lake.
“In addition to the silver carp, good populations of catfish and buffalo should make a good incentive for anglers,” says Diana Andrews, AGFC regional fisheries supervisor in Monticello. “We have also lifted the 16-inch minimum length on buffalo during the season to make it easier on our commercial anglers to make some profit while helping us remove the nuisance fish.”
Plants that make pet food in the area will pay for the fish as a protein source. A free permit must be obtained to take part in the special commercial fishing season.
Carp in Chicot
Asian carp were found in Lake Chicot 10 years ago. Today, the invasive species is becoming a danger to boaters.
“The first instance of Asian carp found in Chicot was during a population sample in 2005,” says Diana Andrews, AGFC regional fisheries supervisor in Monticello. “By 2007, they had grown large enough to cause conflicts with boating and recreation on the lake.”
Asian carp entered waters connected to the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers in the 1970s. The fish escaped aquaculture and research facilities during flooding.
The invasive species causes problem for native fish by consuming much of their natural food sources. In addition, the species’ tendency to leap out of the water when startled makes them dangerous to boaters and anglers.
Silver carp can’t reproduce in the lake, but flooding, most recently in 2016, allows the species to spread into the lake.