Researchers assess virus risks
CSIRO researchers are investigating ecological and social risks associated with the use of a virus to help control noxious carp in Australian waterways.
They are assessing the risks as part of a National Carp Control Plan to make sure the Australian public has confidence the Federal Government makes an informed decision on a release of the Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 disease.
The government is scheduled to make a decision based on the findings at the end of 2018 and if it gives the project its approval, a release schedule might involve Wimmera waterways.
Fisheries Research and Develop- ment Corporation $15-million plan.
The CSIRO risk assessment will identify ‘key stakeholders’ along with social and ecological ‘values’ that a possible introduction of the carp virus might directly or indirectly impact.
CSIRO researcher Brent Henderson said the risk assessment would help with decision-making.
“It will consider the range of possible impact pathways, be transparent about uncertainties and assumptions, and be as explicit and quantitative as possible,” he said. “This research aims to provide confidence to the Australian public, regulators and decision-makers the ecological and social risks have been systematically and transparently assessed.” is preparing the
Research will also measure ‘social dimensions’ of risk associated with viral biocontrol.
“Some of the social factors we will look at include people’s values, cultural habits and beliefs around carp and the biocontrol of carp,” Dr Henderson said.
Plan co-ordinator Matt Warwick said there was a need for community engagement to establish an understanding of what stakeholder groups, including the general public, perceived possible social risks.
“This will help ensure that we can develop a plan that can address these aspects,” he said.
“So far, we are learning that while people are seeking further information on the logistics and practicalities of carp control – which our research program will provide – the message we’re receiving is that people are keen to learn more about the concept and that they generally consider carp an unacceptable blight on our aquatic landscapes.”
Other major research projects underway include a biomass study to provide an estimate of carp density in Australian waterways; completion of final trials testing susceptibility of non-target species to the carp virus; and plans for cleaning up carp that succumb to the virus if it is released.
As well as research, project leaders will implement a stakeholder engagement plan during the next 18 months.