Researchers will experiment with a riverbed bubbler and sound system as part of the ongoing effort to slow the spread of invasive carp throughout the Mississippi River basin.
European technology originally designed to steer migrating salmon back into main river channels will be tested below Barkley Dam in western Kentucky as an environmentally friendly way to block passage of invasive species upstream.
The Bio-Acoustic Fish Fence (BAFF) creates a curtain of bubbles, and in conjunction with a powerful sound signal, produces an underwater “wall of sound” designed to deter the passage of fish.
Fish Guidance Systems, LTD, a company based in the United Kingdom, invented the device to herd migrating fish around water intakes and dams in Europe. The company describes the fence as a behavioral barrier that requires less maintenance than a physical barrier, such as a screen or an electrical barrier.
A multi-agency research group chose this company’s technology for the Barkley Dam test. The Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Minnesota, Fish Guidance Systems and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources are combining funding, technology and staff to construct a research plan that should put an acoustic bubbler system below the dam in fall 2018. Researchers will use an existing telemetry receiver array and other electronic devices to assess the movement of species such as bighead, silver, black and grass carp from the tailwater into Barkley Lake. The existence of the current telemetry array – set up by local Kentucky Fish and Wildlife research staff – and the large number of invasive carp in the tailwater make Barkley Dam the ideal location for this research.
The species are a major concern throughout the Mississippi River basin, including the Tennessee River, which forms Kentucky Lake, and the Cumberland River, which forms Lake Barkley. These are two of the largest reservoirs in Kentucky.