National Carp Control Plan update and the Victorian Perspective
Carp is a major aquatic pest species in Victoria. The species has been a blight on aquatic systems and anglers for far too many years. Unfortunately, carp are so ingrained in the landscape that many anglers do not know what it is like to have lakes and streams with low carp number and cannot imagine what a low carp fishery looks like.
Despite considerable effort on a number of fronts, carp control has been difficult as the fish can produce millions of fry when environmental conditions are suitable and the fish are long lived, so they don't have to spawn each year but when they do, there are lots of young. Conventional control methods have been limited.
Over the past decades governments and waterway mangers have been active in improving the health of our rivers and native fish populations including a number of measures to manage or remove carp, yet carp are still the dominant species in many of the states waterways. In May 2016, the Commonwealth Government announced $15 million over 2.5 years for the development of a National Carp Control Plan (NCCP).
The Victorian Government understands that effective control carp has potential to provide strong environmental benefits for Victorian waterways and is taking a key role in supporting the development of the NCCP.
The NCCP will explore the release of a carp herpes virus as a biological control agent to manage carp in Australian waterways. The Victorian Government recognises that biological control offers the best potential to control or significantly reduce the carp population.
There are, however, a number of potential risks that must first be managed before Victoria can support the release of the virus. Risks may include periods of poor water quality resulting from the die-off of large numbers of carp that may impact on Victorian communities and environmental values.
The NCCP team is now embarking on a large program of scientific research and a series of community engagement forums across carp affected areas in order to:
- address knowledge gaps, and better understand and manage risks to support the potential release of the carp virus, subsequent clean-up and recovery of native fish and ecosystems;
- plan for an integrated approach to control carp in Australia's waterways;
- build community awareness for the proposal to release the carp virus, and identify and address stakeholders' and communities' concerns;
- develop detailed strategies for release of the carp virus and subsequent clean-up; and
- support national coordination on all elements of the NCCP's development.
At the end of 2018, the NCCP team will make a formal recommendation on the best way to control carp impacts in Australia. This recommendation will be a document called 'The National Carp Control Plan'.
Should a nationally-endorsed decision be made to implement the NCCP and proceed with a release of the carp virus, this will be managed by the relevant state and territory governments through existing interjurisdictional arrangements including the Invasive Plants and Animals Committee and the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee.
Further information on the NCCP can be found at www.carp.gov.au