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Plant can help carp problem

Plant can help carp problem
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
A new fish processing plant is coming to western Kentucky and that’s good economic development news for Ballard County, Ky., but even more important the new plant will deal with the region’s Asian carp invasion.
Work is already under way on a 36,000-square-foot spec building in Wickliffe to develop the plant into a fish processing facility — Two Rivers Fisheries.
The spec building is owned by the Ballard County Industrial Development Board. The facility is being leased by  Two Rivers Fisheries.
Getting the fish processing plant up and running is the responsibility of Two Rivers Fisheries president Angie Yu.
“So far we just started the construction work and it will take two to three months,” she informed The Messenger.
If all goes as planned, Two Rivers Fisheries will be open for business by May and will initially employ 10 workers. Ms. Yu said plans are to hire up to 50 workers eventually.
“That will take a few years,” she said.
Ms. Yu said once the plant is operational, she plans to process up to 40,000 pounds of fish a week. That total will increase as the plant grows and new markets develop.
Vickie Viniard is the county judge executive for Ballard County and she has been closely involved in the fish processing project, which has been in the works for more than a year, according to a county official.
The Wickliffe plant will process Asian carp before it’s shipped to China and other countries in the Far East, where it’s considered a delicacy. Ms. Yu said she plans to ship to Taiwan, Korea and Japan.
She said the Wickliffe plant is her company’s first facility in the United States.
Wickliffe is located about 38 miles north of Union City in extreme West Kentucky. The county is strategically situated at the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
The invasive Asian carp have become a serious problem along those and other waterways in the region. The fish were first introduced into catfish ponds in the South in the 1970s and were used to manage algae in fish ponds. However, the exotic fish quickly found their way into rivers and streams and have since made their way through waterways across the Eastern United States.
The carp have a voracious appetite and are having a major impact on the ecosystems of the rivers, streams and lakes they inhabit — including the Mississippi River and Reelfoot Lake. The fish are considered to be prolific breeders and have no natural predators.
Their presence at Reelfoot Lake was first noticed in the late 1980s, according to state park naturalist David Haggard.
In addition to their impact on the ecosystem, Asian carp average in size from 10 to 20 pounds and are capable of projecting themselves out of the water like small missiles. The fish can grow up to 80 pounds and larger, according to wildlife officials, and they pose a serious threat to fishermen and boaters.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.22.13

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