We have seen the scourge of carp explode across the Murray Darling Basin since the 1950s. We can even guess that damage to environment, social and economic assets exceeds $500 million.
But where to start to remove to remove the rapacious feral fish once and for all? That’s the aim of the $15m National Carp Control Plan and your help is needed.
The man dubbed “Carpinator” by Water Minister Barnaby Joyce, Environmental scientist and fisheries expert Matt Barwick, has been appointed to the role of national co-ordinator, where he will investigate carp control programs to boost river health.
The National Carp Control Program aims to release its management plan by the end of the year. Its headline objective is to determine if releasing a fatal carp herpes virus is a safe and effective measure.
Mr Barwick has launched a new element of the program, announcing a cost benefit study into carp in the Basin. It will look at everything from the cost of carp industry from treatment costs from reduced water quality, the impact to recreational fishing, environmental impacts and so on.
“Every individual will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and recommendations, whether that is via face-to-face meetings in regional locations, via their local council or representative body, or directly through our NCCP engagement tools,” Mr Barwick said.
Carp comprise a staggering 90 per cent of the fish biomass in the Basin. A key question hanging over release of the carp virus is what to do with the mountains of rotting dead fish which will pile up in waterways, and potentially deoxygenate water to cause native fish-killing blackwater events.
Mr Barwick said he will investigate if commercial uses of the dead carp, perhaps harvesting them for fertiliser or even uses the scales for energy production, could help bolster the commercial case for releasing the virus.
A recent study of carp of the Mississippi, Widespread and enduring demographic collapse of invasive common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in the Upper Mississippi River System, has given the Carpinator cause for hope.
“The Mississippi is a very big river system, like the Murray Darling and with the release of the study concluded that the same carp virus we are looking at in Australia was the likely cause,” Mr Barwick said.
The National Carp Program wants your feedback and recommendations. Visit www.carp.gov.au/Contact-us