Carp control plan closer, but two years overdue
THE writing may soon be on the wall for one of Australia’s most environmentally damaging introduced species, as a report on the feasibility of using a herpes virus to manage carp draws closer to completion.
Carp are an introduced, bottom-feeding pest that muddies the waters of the Murray-Darling Basin, destroying native water plants, insects, crustaceans and fish.
After years of trialling several methods of carp control, including explosives, electricity, traps and poisons, the Federal Government finally declared its intention to utilise cyprinid herpesvirus 3, a strain of herpes specific to carp, to manage numbers.
The report was due almost two years ago but, due to the pandemic, the assessment was delayed until the end of 2021.
Wangaratta Landcare and Sustainability Network member Kelvin Berry said the rollout of the National Carp Control Plan, as well as the use of a herpes virus for carp control, has been in disarray for years.
“It’s a bit disappointing when you’ve got all the chemistry and that in place and it’s been used for 23-25 years in 30-something countries around the world, but not here,” he said.
“This product has been tried and tested and the CSRIO here and down in Geelong, they’ve done all the necessary tests.
“As far as I’m concerned it was all just disappointing - not necessarily that they didn’t adopt the national carp plan or release the herpes virus.”
Mr Berry and the Wangaratta Landcare Group have been removing carp from the waterways of the Ovens and King rivers for years, and he said significant results have been achieved while waiting for a national plan to be delivered.
“I feel that with the assistance of Wangaratta Landcare Group and the Arthur Rylah Institute and local fishing, we have probably got it manageable,” he said.
“You’re never, ever going to remove all the carp, but what you need to do is to reduce the biomass so that it’s manageable - we’ve done that here.
“The population surveys in the Ovens and the King rivers have shown that the native fish are starting to take over and reduce the number of carp because they eat the bloody things.
“With the 16.95 ton we’ve physically removed from our systems - Lake Mitta Mitta, Lake Benalla, Ovens River, King River - it’s proved that you can hardly catch a carp here now and you can go and catch a cod or a trout cod any time you go fishing.
“It has proved a point that it can be done.”
With the future of national carp management still murky, Mr Berry and the Wangaratta Landcare and Sustainability Network will continue to roll up their sleeves and get the job done themselves.