A carp herpes virus that is currently being investigated by CSIRO researchers promises eighty-five to ninety per cent effectiveness and may be a future solution for rapidly eradicating the pest species in the future.
The virus know as cyprinid herpesvirus-3 in widespread in the northern hemisphere, but has not been introduced to countries like Australia and New Zealand where carp threaten native species and waterways.
In Goondiwindi and surrounding regions, carp make up between seventy and ninety per cent of all fish biomass, causing significant ecological damage due to prolific breeding and feeding behaviours.
Although the virus will not be released for a number of years, it is a solution that holds a lot of hope for Border Rivers Water and Wetlands Officer, Alastair King.
“At the moment CSIRO are doing tests on the virus in secure bio-facilities… It’s got potential to really impact the number of carp in our rivers.”
Some studies have found that for every kilo of carp that is removed from aquatic systems there is a three-fold increase in native fish biomass below a threshold.
Current solutions for eradicating carp in the region include carp nets and carp-buster fishing days, however these procedures have limited effectiveness according to Mr King.
“[The carp busters program] is really useful to raise awareness… within the community of the value of our rivers and our aquatic resources,” says Mr King.
Maranoa Councillor Jan Chambers says that any alternative measures for carp eradication would be warmly welcomed by regional communities.
“I think anything to reduce carp numbers would be greatly appreciated,” she says.
The herpes virus is believed to target carp specifically and does not affect other native and introduced fish species.
However Mr King has voiced concerns about the affects of large numbers of dead carp on the aquatic environment, should the virus be introduced into wild populations.
The virus is currently being tested in the CSIRO’s most sophisticated high containment facility to determine its sustainability and safety for controlling large numbers of carp.