A wide-ranging report, involving state officials, zoologists, and fisheries and aquatic ecology experts has determined that the BioAcoustic Fish Fence (BAFF) is the ‘viable fish barrier technology’ to help prevent the spread of invasive carp in Tennessee.

The Asian Carp Mitigation Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment, released this month, July 2021, has been prepared by the Tennessee Valley Authority and recommends turning the tide on the damaging invasive species by deploying BAFF systems at up to 7 sites across the river network.

The assessment describes; ‘the continuing expansion of Asian carp populations within the Tennessee River system’ as having ‘the potential to threaten native ecosystems, rare and protected species, sports fisheries, and public safety, which can lead to reduced recreation, tourism, and property values; and ultimately impact local economies’.

Preferred choice

TVA’s assessment promotes Fish Guidance System’s BioAcoustic Fish Fence system (BAFF) as the preferred deterrent technology. The BAFF system uses a combination of bubbles, sound and light to create a deterrent that stops invasive species from moving further, and can be further enhanced when used in conjunction with a CO2 system, something that is recommended in the assessment.

Both electric barriers and Acoustic Deterrent Systems(ADS) were also assessed by the report but were discounted. In addition, the TVA released their assessment before Judge White released the results of the Barkley Lock trial, which show the BAFF is 95% effective against invasive carp in preliminary results.

Judge White stated that ‘the news was promising and a critical first step in understanding the technology, but that more time is needed to complete the study. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to observe fish behavior over different seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter), and there’s ongoing efforts to tag more carp for a larger sample size of data.’

Viable Fish Barrier Technology

The assessment described their findings as follows.

“1. Viable fish barrier technologies for application within the Tennessee River system include the BAFF and CO2 systems. ADS and the electric barrier were not recommended

2. BAFF may be deployed as either a stand-alone technology or in combination with CO2 at selected sites. 

3. CO2 is not recommended as a stand-alone technology. 

4. Deployment is recommended as a planned combination of installations at multiple selected L&D sites. Single deployment at isolated L&D sites is not recommended.

BAFF was recommended at the following locations to best control spread of Asian carp: Kentucky, Wilson, and Pickwick Landing should be installed immediately, followed by Guntersville. Supplemental CO2 fish barriers are recommended at Kentucky and Guntersville to provide redundancy to the BAFF system. The BAFF system should be installed downstream of the lock, and the CO2 system should be installed in the lock chamber.”

Latest Report

The TVA’s report is the latest in a series of reports that recommends Fish Guidance Systems’ BAFF as a viable option to prevent the spread of invasive carp. The following reports also determined the BAFF’s suitability:

Tennessee Valley Authority, July 2021 –  Asian Carp Mitigation Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment