Carp virus can help save waterways: Carp Control Chief

The head of the Carp Control Plan says the carp herpes virus will reduce carp populations but not eradicate the noxious species (image: Martin Auldist).

EARLY research indicates the carp herpes virus would have the desired impact and reduce populations of our most damaging pest fish, according to the head of the National Carp Control Plan Jamie Allnut, who leads a $10 million investigation into the safety and feasibility of introducing the fatal virus.

An article in The Land reports that, similar to the release of the rabbit Myxomatosis virus, the carp herpes virus could significantly knock down carp numbers in targeted stretches of waterway.

But despite some bombastic rhetoric from Canberra when the scheme was introduced in late 2017, the herpes virus won’t eradicate carp.

Its value, says Mr Allnut, lies in creating a window in time where projects to boost the health of rivers and native fish can be more effective than they would be with unconstrained carp populations.

“The way we will present it to government is as a window of opportunity for us to start on the journey to restore natural values. But it doesn’t mean we will eradicate carp,” Mr Allnut said.

Carp have decimated native fish since the 1950s and populations have exploded across the Murray Darling Basin to account for more than 80 per cent of aquatic biomass.

The ‘rabbits of the waterways’ out-breed natives, eat their spawn, crowd native fish from their habitat, reduce water quality and disrupt the entire ecosystem.

Estimates place the economic value of damage to environment, social and economic assets at more than $500 million.

“You can never know exactly how effective the virus will be, but we are building confidence it will be effective under certain conditions,” Mr Allnut said.

You can read the full story HERE.

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