Asian carp program director selected


As fisheries director for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources the last 10 years, Ron Brooks has spent a lot of time dealing with Asian carp.

And, he is about to spend a lot more time with the increasingly invasive species in his new role as the commonwealth's first Asian carp program director.

"I started looking into this in 2009 when I first took over (as fisheries director)," Brooks said. "I guess nobody really knew how bad it was until the fall of that year. Ever since then, we've been trying to put together different types of programs to look at this issue from different levels.

"We have an Ohio River effort where we're trying to keep the fish from expanding their populations up the river. And, of course, in western Kentucky we're working very hard to help establish a commercial industry and monitoring the effects of that to try and reduce the numbers in Kentucky and Barkley lakes."

According to Brooks, "This new position really allows me time to focus directly on the issue ... It really underscores the department's desire to ensure we're doing everything we can to fight Asian carp in Kentucky and throughout the southeast."

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Rich Storm said Brooks' "expertise and leadership will serve the agency and the resource well in his new role."

Those sentiments were echoed by Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White.

"I think it's an excellent idea that they've created this position," White said. "This shows that the state's fish and wildlife department is really, really serious about this."

According to White, "it's not just Kentucky that relies on him ... it's other states. He's the real deal."

Brooks was among the featured speakers at an April dedication earlier this year of the International Fisheries Industrial Park in Ballard County, dedicated to processing Asian carp in the U.S.

"From our side of it, a lot of it is making regulations that helps entrepreneurs (like Angie Yu at Two Rivers Fisheries) be successful," Brooks said. "We've done a lot of that with programs that we're sponsoring to help fishermen have a place to take fish all the time, and they're getting paid for it.

"So, it's a lot of little things to help that industry not only get started but expand. And, it really is starting to expand."

According to Brooks, Kentucky is the epicenter of the Asian carp industry.

"The fact that Kentucky and Barkley lakes (have such a problem) kind of pushes the urgency button for us, because it's such a tremendous fishery and its got a great tourism economy," he said.

"When you look around the country, really those two reservoirs right now are the biggest reservoirs that have such an intense problem. That's why I call it the epicenter."

That is the reason why people are excited about coming to the lakes area and starting processing businesses, Brooks said, because Asian carp are so robust in the region.

"So, it's kind of a good news, bad news. We're using the commercial industry to help up get rid of the fish, so it's win-win for everybody."

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