Hope grows for carp con­trol

Shepparton News - Country News - - WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE -

The days of the Euro­pean carp, the fish of­ten de­scribed as the rab­bit pest of the wa­ter­ways, could be num­bered.

A se­nior man­ager from the Na­tional Carp Con­trol Plan has told a meet­ing of Mur­ray Val­ley ir­ri­ga­tors that there is promis­ing re­search that could lead to a new con­trol pro­gram.

‘‘There is ev­ery right to have hope, be­cause we have a na­tional sci­ence-based process to ask: is there a so­lu­tion,’’ Na­tional co­or­di­na­tor Matt Bar­wick said.

‘‘That’s what we are in the mid­dle of right now. The re­search is show­ing promise that we will have an un­der­stand­ing of what the prob­lem is and what might hap­pen if we fix it.’’

The sci­en­tists are look­ing at the im­pli­ca­tions of how a virus could be used to con­trol the carp, sim­i­lar to the re­lease of myx­o­mato­sis to con­trol wild rab­bits.

‘‘We need to let the re­search run out to give us an an­swer to the ques­tions about how it would work, what would be the costs and what would be the ben­e­fit.

‘‘The de­ci­sion (to use or not use a virus) has to be based on the sci­ence.’’

He said most of the re­search was close to com­ple­tion and a fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tion may be only months away. Mr Bar­wick said re­search had found that if the ton­nage of carp in wa­ter­ways could be re­duced by 30 per cent, the pop­u­la­tion of na­tive fish would dou­ble.

He showed a Co­huna meet­ing or­gan­ised by the Speak Up Cam­paign pho­to­graphs of wa­ter­ways which had been rid of the pest, but also warned that even a virus may not com­pletely kill all carp.

In re­sponse to ques­tions, he agreed that sim­ply de­liv­er­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal flows down the river, although help­ful to all fish, would not re­move the carp.

He said the virus cur­rently be­ing stud­ied by the sci­en­tists was al­ready liv­ing in 33 coun­tries, hav­ing been in­tro­duced ac­ci­den­tally in many of them.

Carp (Cypri­nus car­pio) have been in Aus­tralia for more than 100 years and are now es­tab­lished in all states and ter­ri­to­ries ex­cept the Northern Ter­ri­tory.

They pol­lute about one mil­lion square kilo­me­tres of Aus­tralian land­scape.

Carp dom­i­nate fresh­wa­ter fish com­mu­ni­ties in south-eastern Aus­tralia — in many ar­eas they com­prise more than 80 per cent of fish biomass, ex­ceed­ing 350 kg per hectare in some parts of the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin.

Learn­ing about pest . . . Ir­ri­ga­tors lis­ten to a pre­sen­ta­tion on the carp pest prob­lem.

Carp in­sight . . . Matt Bar­wick ex­plains re­search on carp at a Speak Up Cam­paign meet­ing at Co­huna.

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