Long-term process for carp man­age­ment plan

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News -

RE­SEARCHERS and govern­ment of­fi­cials were given a pre­view of the re­search be­ing un­der­taken as part of the Na­tional Carp Con­trol Plan (NCCP) in Can­berra.

The NCCP is be­ing pre­pared to ex­plore ways to im­prove the qual­ity of our wa­ter­ways, with one be­ing the pos­si­ble re­lease of the carp virus cyprinid her­pesvirus-3, through a $15 mil­lion Fish­eries Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (FRDC) plan­ning process on be­half of the Aus­tralian Govern­ment.

As part of the plan, the NCCP is co-or­di­nat­ing a large pro­gram of re­search to un­der­stand how the po­ten­tial re­lease of the virus to con­trol the in­tro­duced carp species could be man­aged and to gauge com­mu­nity at­ti­tudes and opin­ions.

At the Prin­ci­pal In­ves­ti­ga­tor Workshop in Can­berra last week, re­searchers were able to gain a broad overview of each of the NCCP’s re­search projects and to iden­tify how they could best work to­gether. NCCP na­tional co-or­di­na­tor Matt Bar­wick says get­ting all of the re­searchers to­gether high­lighted the ex­ten­sive work that needed to oc­cur be­fore a de­ci­sion was made re­gard­ing whether or not the carp virus was the best op­tion to con­trol carp.

“The Na­tional Carp Con­trol Plan is a process, not a fore­gone con­clu­sion,” Mr Bar­wick said.

“Carp are one of the most de­struc­tive in­tro­duced pest species in Aus­tralia and cause ma­jor da­m­age to na­tive fish pop­u­la­tions and the wa­ter qual­ity of our wa­ter­ways.

“Dif­fer­ent meth­ods have been tried for decades to con­trol carp with­out wide­spread suc­cess and that is why we find our­selves prepar­ing the NCCP.”

World-class so­cial sci­en­tists, bi­ol­o­gists, econ­o­mists, risk as­sess­ment spe­cial­ists and wa­ter qual­ity ex­perts are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the chal­lenges, risks, costs, op­por­tu­ni­ties and po­ten­tial ben­e­fits of carp bio­con­trol.

Some of the ma­jor re­search projects in­clude: a biomass study to pro­vide an es­ti­mate of carp den­sity in Aus­tralian wa­ter­ways; com­ple­tion of tri­als test­ing sus­cep­ti­bil­ity of non-tar­get species to the carp virus; strate­gies for clean­ing up dead carp if the carp virus is re­leased; and a quan­ti­ta­tive so­cial, eco­nomic and eco­log­i­cal risk as­sess­ment of carp bio­con­trol.

As­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the Uni­ver­sity of Can­berra’s Health Re­search In­sti­tute & In­sti­tute for Ap­plied Ecol­ogy, Dr Jacki Schirmer, is ex­plor­ing com­mu­nity at­ti­tudes to carp bio­con­trol.

There will be four ma­jor sur­veys un­der­taken with sig­nif­i­cant sam­ple sizes to de­ter­mine what peo­ple think about carp con­trol, and iden­tify ques­tions they may have.

Mr Bar­wick said carp im­pact on ev­ery­one and the aim of the plan was to solve the chal­lenge to­gether.

“Com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion will con­tinue to en­sure the NCCP is aware of the eco­log­i­cal val­ues of the af­fected wa­ter­ways and any likely di­rect and in­di­rect im­pacts that may even­tu­ate from the use of this con­trol method,” he said.

“Rivers and other wa­ter­ways are the lifeblood of com­mu­ni­ties and in­dus­tries like agri­cul­ture and tourism. The pur­pose of the NCCP is to re­turn the wa­ter­ways back to healthy and vi­able ecosys­tems to im­prove the wa­ter for drink­ing, fish­ing and recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties.”

“Healthy river sys­tems and wa­ter­ways re­sult in health­ier com­mu­ni­ties.”

❝The Na­tional Carp Con­trol Plan is a process, not a fore­gone con­clu­sion... — Matt Bar­wick

PHOTO: WILL HUNTER

BIG JOB: Re­moval of carp from Aus­tralian wa­ter­ways is un­der way.

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