Re­searchers as­sess virus risks

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.

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