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New Asian Carp Deterrent at Keokuk

Lock and Dam 19 Keokuk

Work is underway at Lock and Dam 19 in Keokuk to install an experimental system to stop the invasive Asian Carp from migrating up the Mississippi River.

Geologist Marybeth Brey said the final cables and electrical components will be operational within a few weeks. They will then begin testing the sixteen underwater speakers that have been installed in the dam's lock approach.

"So we're hoping that they (Asian Carp) move into the lock approach, they are discouraged by the sound that's played and they turn around and move downstream," Brey said.

Brey said Lock and Dam 19 was chosen to test this system because it's a natural "pinch point," meaning there are more Asian Carp below the lock than above it. She said the United States Geological Survey is hoping to make it easier for commercial fishing crews to remove the carp in higher numbers downstream.

Brey said other deterrent systems have been tested in Kentucky and Wisconsin, but Geologist Christa Woodley said it's important not to compare the systems, as "each one is incredibly different."

Woodley said the system in Wisconsin was much smaller than what's being installed at Lock and Dam 19, while the system in Kentucky had other deterrents in addition to sound.

Geologists will also be looking at whether the deterrent will affect native fish such as Big Mouth Buffalo, Paddlefish, Lake Sturgeon, and other species in the area. Woodley said laboratory data from previous tests had shown that native species were "less affected," although they won't know for sure until they get data back.

Brey said controlling the carp population will mean native fish have less competition for food, as the Asian Carp are "great filter feeders" and don't leave a lot of food available for native species with similar diets.

After the installation is completed, Brey said the USGS will begin tagging fish and monitoring movements. Brey says they will begin getting some data back late this summer, and should have an idea of how effective the deterrent system is by the end of the year.

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

David Hightower is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.