U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) secured $25 million to help fight the War on Asian carp in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, of which McConnell is a senior member, approved the funding bill. McConnell helped secure $11 million for the project last year.
The Interior Appropriations Bill must now be approved by the full Senate.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will use the funding to help remove Asian carp, an invasive species, from reservoirs like Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The bill also includes more than $9 million for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and its work to combat the spread of Asian Carp in Western Kentucky lakes and in the Ohio River and Tennessee River basins.
"I am proud that my colleagues voted to support my proposal to invest federal resources into fighting the War on Asian Carp in Western Kentucky. With local leaders like Judge Wade White and KDFWR's Ron Brooks, we are making real progress.
"At my request, the Trump administration is using its most sophisticated strategies to protect Kentucky's waters, and I'm proud to direct these federal resources to support that critical work," said McConnell. "As Senate Majority Leader and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I'm standing up for rural America and supporting Kentucky's economy."
"Without leaders like Senator McConnell you don't get results like this. We had a budget bill come over from the House without this critical appropriation and Senator McConnell got it put in there," said White, Lyon County judge-executive. "With this money, barriers to prevent these fish from spreading will be constructed and commercial fisherman will receive incentives to target and catch Asian Carp. All the southern states affected by Asian carp will benefit from this and we have Senator McConnell to thank for it."
"The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources thanks Senator McConnell and staff for their efforts in raising awareness among Congressional members about the immense threats that Asian carp pose to our state and most of the Mississippi River Basin states. The Senate's $25-million budget proposal to fight Asian carp would greatly benefit the Commonwealth's existing programs at Lake Barkley, Kentucky Lake, and in the Ohio River along our northern border," said Ron Brooks, the Aquatic Invasive Species Program Director, Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources (KDFWR). "Without the dedicated efforts of Senator McConnell and his staff, we would be hard-pressed to meet the challenges Asian carp pose to our tourism and recreation industries."
Earlier this year, USFWS and USGS agreed to McConnell's request to deploy the advanced "Unified Method of Fishing," which involves corralling Asian Carp into one location using electronic technology and extracting the fish from the water with specialized nets. This technique has been successful in controlling Asian Carp populations abroad, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has successfully deployed it in Missouri and Illinois.
In May, McConnell visited Western Kentucky with members of the Trump administration, where they discussed options, such as the Unified Method, to address the Asian Carp invasion with local elected officials, community leaders and the local media.
Senator McConnell raised this issue personally with U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, and he contacted both USFWS and USGS to encourage collaboration between the agencies to bring the "Unified Method" to Kentucky. He urged USFWS and USGS to evaluate this method of harvesting Asian Carp and to provide technical assistance, personnel and equipment in support of both Kentucky's fishermen and the region's tourism economy.
Following the announcement of the "Unified Method" (photos below), Senator McConnell said, "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has answered my call to deploy an aggressive strategy to combat these invasive and dangerous species in Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. With coordination among several agencies at all levels, we can help protect Kentucky's treasured waters, support our boaters and anglers, and bolster Western Kentucky's $1.2 billion fishing economy."