Goulburn Valley fishers are angling for an end to European carp in the region’s waterways and were receptive to the idea of releasing a herpes virus that could wipe out at least 93 per cent of the feisty fish.
A crowd of passionate anglers gathered at Shepparton’s Overlander Hotel last Wednesday to learn more about the National Carp Control Plan.
It is still in its formative stages and the final plan will not be released until the end of next year. Meetings are being held across Victoria to determine whether releasing the carp herpes virus is the right course of action.
‘‘Carp are one of Australia’s worst invasive species, they are a major problem,’’ National Carp Control Plan state director Craig Ingram said.
European carp make-up about 80 per cent of fish in the Murray River with the other 20 per cent being native fish.
Mr Ingram said carp were a threat to the ecosystem, but it was necessary to consider all the positives and negatives about releasing a virus directly targeted at them, and the public and other agencies needed to be involved in the discussion.
National Carp Control Plan digital media manager Tom Rayner talked about the science of the carp herpes virus at the Shepparton meeting and said tests showed it could not spread to native fish or impact other wildlife that used the waterways.
The virus would also have no impact on our drinking water but a budget for fish clean-up would need to be considered.
Goldfish could be impacted by the virus as they are related to carp, but as they live in tanks with filtered water it is unlikely to be passed onto them.
Many members of the public were keen to ask questions and raised concerns about the carp becoming immune to the virus and continuing to breed.
Dr Rayner said about seven per cent of carp were naturally resistant to the herpes virus and would likely have to be hand-fished out of waterways.
‘‘We need to do more than just the virus,’’ he said.
Many in the room agreed that although it was expensive to kill the carp it would be worth it in the long run.
■To find out more about the National Carp Control Plan, go to: www.carp.gov.au