Carp study plan on home straight

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Ana­tional

project to de­ter­mine whether the bi­o­log­i­cal re­lease of a speciesspe­cific virus can tackle nox­ious carp is on track to fin­ish in De­cem­ber this year.

Re­searchers are steadily tabling re­sults from more than 19 projects ex­plor­ing the po­ten­tial of con­trol­ling the pest with the virus.

The Na­tional Carp Con­trol Plan is a $10.2-mil­lion Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment pro­gram led by Fish­eries Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion.

Wim­mera catch­ment lead­ers, fol­low­ing the progress of the plan, have pre­vi­ously sug­gested, de­pend­ing on re­search find­ings, that the land­locked Wim­mera River sys­tem might of­fer an ideal pi­lot area for the re­lease.

One project led by Dr Su­san Ni­chols from the Uni­ver­sity of Can­berra is in its fi­nal stage of re­view.

Dr Ni­chols’ project has in­volved col­lect­ing and analysing ex­pert views and sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture to un­der­stand the likely medium to longterm en­vi­ron­men­tal re­sponses to re­duced carp pop­u­la­tions.

“Longer-term pre­dic­tions over broader geo­graphic ar­eas are com­pli­cated by the di­ver­sity of ecosys­tem types,” she said.

“There are dif­fer­ent types of lakes, rivers and wet­lands in­hab­ited by carp in Aus­tralia, each with unique man­age­ment his­to­ries and con­di­tions.”

Carp, Cypri­nus car­pio, are the most abun­dant fresh­wa­ter fish in many wa­ter­ways of south east­ern Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing the Wim­mera.

Wa­ter­way spe­cial­ists be­lieve the species has detri­men­tal ef­fects on wa­ter qual­ity, na­tive fish pop­u­la­tions, fish­ing and ir­ri­ga­tion.

How­ever, they say iden­ti­fy­ing spe­cific ben­e­fits of carp re­moval is com­plex, adding that flow his­tory and types of ecosys­tems in­flu­ence long-term eco­log­i­cal re­sponses.

Carp-con­trol re­search fo­cuses on the premise that re­duc­ing the num­ber of carp in Aus­tralia’s wa­ter­ways will im­prove the health of aquatic ecosys­tems.

This premise is based on ex­per­i­men­tal and anec­do­tal ev­i­dence from Aus­tralia and over­seas.

Ad­di­tional re­cent re­search also high­lights the po­ten­tial im­pact on the broader en­vi­ron­ment fol­low­ing re­duc­tions in carp num­bers.

As part of the project, re­searchers in­vited ex­perts from a wide range of dis­ci­plines to par­tic­i­pate in an on­line sur­vey and work­shops to pre­dict how dif­fer­ent lev­els of carp re­duc­tion would af­fect a va­ri­ety of ecosys­tems and species such as na­tive fish, wa­ter plants, macroin­ver­te­brates in­clud­ing mol­luscs, wa­ter bugs, yab­bies and shrimp, wa­ter birds, am­phib­ians, al­gae and zoo­plank­ton. They also con­sid­ered a re­sponse to wa­ter qual­ity.

Forty-nine ex­perts who re­sponded to the sur­vey were in­vited to dis­cuss thoughts in two work­shops and given the op­por­tu­nity to re­view their pre­dic­tions in light of the dis­cus­sions.

The ex­perts agreed carp pop­u­la­tions needed to be sig­nif­i­cantly less to pro­vide ben­e­fits across most ecosys­tems.

They em­pha­sised that dif­fer­ent ecosys­tem types would vary in their re­sponse to carp and that re­sponses were likely to vary over time.

The ex­pert re­spon­ders also iden­ti­fied fac­tors they be­lieved would in­flu­ence ecosys­tem re­sponses.

One of the pre­dic­tions was that de­graded sys­tems might not re­turn to their orig­i­nal state af­ter the re­duc­tion of carp. This could be due to fac­tors such as other alien species in­clud­ing redfin do­ing bet­ter with­out the pres­ence of carp.

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