letter to the editor

Asian carp alert for Ft. Loudoun, Watts Bar, is given

As you are probably well aware, species of Asian carp are now migrating upstream in the Tennessee River. (Related Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency story was on page 1B in our April 16 issue)

In January, TWRA announced the capture of a silver carp (pictured above) in Chickamauga Lake. Bighead carp eDNA was previously detected in Watts Bar Lake.

History has shown that once an Asian carp population is established in a major waterway, eradication has been impossible. They squeeze out native species, ruin sport fishing, make boating hazardous and collapse property values.

The primary means of migration for these invasive species has been through the locks. Timothy Joseph, PhD, of Watts Bar Ecology and Fisheries Council (https://wbefc.org/), has long been an advocate of installing electrical barriers to deter these fish. Unfortunately, no action has been taken and TVA says that the required environmental impact study, design construction and implementation would take about three years.

With silver carp now in Chickamauga, we believe the only hope for saving Watts Bar and upstream from infestation is to close Watts Bar and Ft. Loudoun locks now. While that action would have economic consequences, they are potentially short-term. The economic and ecological damage from Asian carp would be far greater and irreversible.

The site https://www.facebook.com/stopsilvercarpinTN/ first posted on Feb. 28. The purpose of this social media site is to act as a modern-day Paul Revere by informing people of the threat and mobilizing them to act in support of closing the locks.

At this time, Stop Silver Carp in TN is probably the best aggregation of information to be found anywhere on the Internet on the topic of Asian carp. In its short existence, it has already attracted 450 Page Likes and more than 23,000 views (by the end of March) for its video “The Silver Carp Threat to the Tennessee River.”

Our objective is to grow our Likes quickly to 10,000, which we deem a number large enough to get the attention of our elected representatives. We believe we can do that in a matter of a few months by enlisting the support of like-minded organizations and media outlets such as yours. The locks on the Upper Mississippi were permanently closed in 2015 for this same reason, so we see our objective as achievable.

You are cordially invited to peruse our Facebook site and hopefully Like it as well. I think you’ll find plenty of newsworthy content that would be of great interest to many readers. We would very much appreciate your help in sharing what we have to offer and hopefully thereby help save the Upper Tennessee River.

Joe McCaul