Carp project opportunity
Wimmera development leaders are closely following national research into how best to use tonnes of dead carp and potential of the biomass to promote regional investment.
They are aware the Wimmera River might be a release site for the potential release of a carpspecific virus and of an extensive fish-kill.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon said the region, if confronted with a need to dispose of a mass of fish might have an opportunity to exploit the circumstance.
He said considering tonnes of carp as a sustainable resource instead of costly landfill waste might open a new door for entrepreneurial activity.
“There might be an opportunity for someone to take advantage of availability of carp to process the fish into fertiliser or some other product that might have saleable value,” he said.
“It might be a case of volumes on whether it presents long or short-term opportunities and what processing might be required to turn the fish into a valuable resource. It might also represent a value-adding opportunity for existing operations.
“If there is opportunity for this to happen we don’t want to waste it and this is why we’re interested in the research.”
National carp plan
Fisheries Research and Development Corporation is leading research into the use of Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 to control carp under the $15-million National Carp Control Plan, NCCP.
The corporation will present the plan to the Federal Government at the end of this year and the government will then decide whether to pursue the use of the virus.
Curtin University researchers are investigating ways to sustainably use the carp biomass that could result from a release of the virus.
Their ‘Assessment of options for utilisation of virus-infected carp’ project involves laboratorybased processing trials, as well as commercialscale trials of ways to produce usable carp-based products including fertilisers, compost, and fishmeal and aquaculture food.
Lead researcher Dr Janet Howieson, from the university’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, said the objective was to provide the NCCP with a range of efficient, effective and appropriate uses for carp biomass.
“The research is designed to deliver detailed cost-benefits analyses of the various carp-use processes being investigated including attention to harvest strategies, transport logistics and fish quality at various locations,” she said.
“Identifying local solutions and a communitybased approach to using carp biomass is a key part of the project.”
Researchers, in partnership with Goulburn Valley Water in Victoria, have completed a commercial-scale trial to separate two tonnes of dead carp into solids and liquids. The solids went to composting trials and the liquids to laboratory-based digestion trials that explored biogas production. Another 300 kilograms of whole carp went to a worm farm.
This followed a similar trial at Port Lincoln, South Australia, which used enzyme hydrolysis to break down 10 tonnes of carp biomass into smaller peptides and amino acids that could be used for organic fertiliser or as an aquaculture or animal-feed ingredient.
Dr Howieson said research also explored the feasibility of using carp waste as insect feed, specifically for the black soldier fly.
“The black soldier fly produces larvae that can be used as high-quality aquaculture feed. Products from the insect larvae feeding trials will then be tested in fish-feeding trials to evaluate market opportunity,” she said.
A large-scale composting trial involving a variety of composting methods involving carp biomass is also underway.
NCCP national coordinator Matt Barwick said identifying economically viable and productive uses for carp was an essential part of the NCCP’S clean-up strategy.
“We know there are large volumes of carp in our waterways, so working out what to do with the carp biomass if bio control proceeds provides us with a measured approach to help inform NCCP recommendations and the subsequent decision-making process,” he said.
“One of the most frequent comments at our community consultation sessions relate to how we can best use potential carp biomass.
“We encourage the public to engage with the NCCP to share thoughts and opinions in relation to the impact of carp, the proposed methods for reducing carp numbers and possible options for carp biomass use.”
INVESTIGATION: Tonnes of noxious dead carp used in a Port Lincoln trial in South Australia.