Experimental system expected stop the spread of Asian Carp

Amplified sound expected to scare off Asian Carp

A group of researchers from the University of Minnesota are trying to prevent the spread of Asian Carp in the Mississippi River by installing a new experimental system at Lock and Dam 8 near Genoa.

Asian Carp, also known as silver carp or jumping fish, have been located in certain parts of the Mississippi River, specifically near the Iowa border, for many years. As of right now, there is no useful technique to stop the invasive species from swimming farther up the river, but a new sonic deterrent system is expected to help.

However, one local business owner hopes this new project doesn’t impact his clients fishing experience.

“This place has been in business for 15 years,” said Mark Clements the owner of Captain Hooks Bait and Tackle in Genoa.

Clements has been in the fishing business his whole life

“My grandfather started it, then my father and so I kind of grew up in it,” said Clements.

From live bait to hand made fishing lures, you can find it all here at Captain Hooks Bait and Tackle shop in Genoa.

“During the busy season in spring and fall, there could be 200 people walk in and out of here during the day,” said Clements

Mark wouldn’t have it any other way, however, he is concerned about an experimental project near Lock and Dam 8 in Genoa. The goal is to stop Asian Carp, an invasive species, from migrating further up the Mississippi River.

“We’ve mounted five speakers here that produce a very specific type of sound,” said Peter Sorensen, professor of fisheries and wildlife at the University of Minnesota. “We turn this sound on automatically whenever these gates open, so the sound pulses out for that brief moment in time, then we hope just like a fly swatter it pushes them away, so the boat can go through safely without any disturbance and then the fish don’t come through.”

Clements is worried that sound will scare the native fish away as well, forcing his valued customers to be lured to a new location

“A lot of these small villages, the tourist industry, you know we rely on the fishermen coming up here because we are known to be such a great source here and if you eliminate some of that, it could be millions of dollars,” said Clements.

However, researchers say the speakers will emit a specific frequency of sound that will only affect the Asian Carp because their hearing is more sensitive than the average native fish.

“If there were any significant reason to be concerned, we would immediately re-evaluate everything,” said Sorensen.

Especially when Clements business solely relies on the fish in the Mississippi River.

“The fishermen are really super nice, it’s a nice business to be in,” said Clements.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota will evaluate the sonic deterrent system for about 2 1/2 years. In the meantime, they are hoping to raise enough money to install a monitoring system so they can see how the amplitude sound truly impacts Asian Carp, as well as the native fish.     

The experimental project is funded through environmental trust funds in Minnesota and private donations.

It cost about $75,000 for the equipment and installation of the speakers.