In a country where the angling industry and community thrives on commercial and club lakes with good heads of small carp, it always seems a little strange when you read that other nations view them as nothing more than pests.
In May, the Australian coalition government backed a $15m plan to eradicate what the Aussies call “Australia’s worst freshwater feral pest” better known to you and I as the common carp.
However, it’s not just the cull itself that is a bit of an eye opener, it’s the way that they intend to do it by infecting the fish with the KHV disease.
According to the Australian Guardian: The plan includes the staged release of the carp-specific herpes virus in the Murray-Darling basin. CSIRO scientists have been testing the virus in Australian native fish species and other animals found along the river for the past seven years and have established that it is safe to release into the ecosystem without harming other species.
Christopher Pyne, Australia’s minister for innovation and science told the Guardian
“The common carp is a nasty pest in our waterways and makes up 80% of fish biomass in the Murray Darling Basin
“Anyone who loves the Murray knows what damage the carp have caused to the river environment over many years. The Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre and the CSIRO have made significant progress evaluating a viral biological control agent, we know that it works, we know it’s completely safe, now we need to plan the best way to roll it out.”
It does seem sad to me that this is the way in which they are choosing to deal with the matter. They have apparently tried trapping and commercial fishing but report that this was too expensive and largely ineffective.
Hearing carp being described as nasty pests, does seem to go against every way we view carp as anglers here in the UK and much of Europe. Whilst we’re trying to fight diseases like KHV, others are going to use it as a form of pest control.
Carp fishing as we know it has spread across large parts of the world. It’s a lucrative business and makes up by far, the largest section of angling in this country. It’s sad to see the Australians feel that this is the only way they can control the situation and the worry is that it may have long term effects. If you suddenly kill thousands and thousands of diseased fish, surely that can’t be good for the water quality.
The other thing they may not have realised is that according to our own UK studies, 25% of carp survive infection to KHV by building up antibodies.
A recent government study wrote:
“all of the carp exposed to KHV became infected; 75% developed clinical disease. The remaining 25% survived the infection by creating antibodies.”
So surely the problem won’t only lead to a reasonable survival rate but those that do survive may well pass on genes to future offspring, that make them immune to KHV.
I do worry about the long term outcome of this.