The Commonwealth Government is planning to remove the carp population in the Murray-Darling River under the National Carp Control Plan, set for implementation in 2018. Under the plan, $15 million will be spent on releasing a Cyprinid herpesvirus-3 into the river system which is targeting the species by operating as a biological control agent. Current studies are being undertaken to ensure there is no risk to other species, including humans, by releasing this virus.
However, concerns for the wider sustainability of the ecosystem has been raised by a University of Adelaide study. Ecosystems and marine species are highly vulnerable to small changes in the composition of water. Although potentially unaffected by the virus, species other than carp will likely respond to the oxygen imbalance in the water caused by the decomposition of the affected carp. To this end, the study has recommended the government expand the scope of its modelling, to ensure unintended side effects on the ecosystem do not arise following the release of the virus. Additionally, the study has suggested the government ensure there is a removal strategy for the millions of carp, which make up 80% of fish biomass in the waterway that will pollute the waterway as they decompose.
A summary of the virus research can be read here.
Further information about the Plan can be found here.
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