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Asian carp, beware! New Western Kentucky plant will catch, clean, process invasive fish

Asian carp species of concern include bighead carp, silver carp and black carp. (Photo from Kentucky Fish & Wildlife)

Two Asian carp species of concern include bighead carp and silver carp. (Photo from Kentucky Fish & Wildlife)


Riverine Fisheries International plans to build a fish processing operation in Fulton County in Western Kentucky to catch, clean, process, package and transport various species of invasive Asian carp found in Kentucky’s waters, Gov. Steve Beshear announced. In the process, the $18.7 million project is expected to create 110 new jobs.

“Not only will Riverine Fisheries create new jobs and boost Kentucky exports, but it also will help to control Asian carp,” Beshear said.

Asian carp, which are a threat to native species and habitats, were brought to the United States by fish farmers in the 1970s from China. They were intended to be used in aquaculture and wastewater treatment ponds in the southeastern United States for plankton control and to improve water quality. They escaped into the wild shortly after and soon became established in the Mississippi River.

These carp first appeared in the tailwaters of Barkley and Kentucky lakes in 1987. Since then, Asian carp have spread throughout the entire 665 miles of the Ohio River bordering Kentucky. They also have spread into the Kentucky River, Green River, Salt River and the Rough River.

Riverine Fisheries has purchased a 75,000-square-foot industrial building and also is mooring a self-contained processing vessel in the Mississippi River harbor in Hickman.

The company plans to catch Asian carp using equipment and technologies that have proven successful in the challenging Pacific Northwest and Alaska fishing industries. Once the carp are harvested, it will use the ship to process the fish into commercially viable products, such as surimi (imitation seafood), fishmeal, fish oil, mince and fillets. These products will be shipped to every major market in the world.

Riverine Fisheries will focus on Asian carp that are invading Kentucky Lake, the Mississippi River, Cumberland River, Cumberland River and Tennessee River. In addition to targeting Asian carp, the company will also process other seafood products brought in from other areas of the U.S.

“We are excited that Riverine Fisheries will soon open in Kentucky,” said Ron Brooks, fisheries director with the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources. “Almost three years ago, Joe reached out to Kentucky for assistance with his plans of harvesting Asian carp. We look forward to Riverine Fisheries helping us with our efforts to save our native fish.”

Founded in 2013, Riverine Fisheries was created to capitalize on the prolific growth of the Asian carp throughout the U.S. and the potential invasion into the Great Lakes.

To encourage the investment and job growth in Hickman, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives of up to $3.8 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

From Office of the Government

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