A COALITION of industry and environment groups has come together to call on state and federal governments to take action against Australia’s worst freshwater aquatic pest, the European carp.
Carp currently make up more than 80 percent of fish biomass in the Murray-Darling Basin. Over half of our native fish species in the Murray-Darling Basin are now listed as vulnerable or threatened with extinction. Invasive pests including carp are a major cause in this decline.
Australians’ deep concern about the threat carp pose to our environment has been the catalyst for this unique alliance comprising the Australian Conservation Foundation, Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, Invasive Species Council, National Farmers’ Federation and National Irrigators’ Council. Australian Conservation Foundation acting campaigns director Jonathan La Nauze said, “We are united in calling for clearer, healthier waterways and fish communities.”
“Their testing has confirmed that the carp virus is specific to the species and will kill 70-100 percent of these fish in a short time frame under optimal conditions.” National Irrigators’ Council CEO Mr Tom Chesson said, “It’s important that the focus should not solely be on the delivery of environmental water.”
“We need to undertake additional activities – like biocontrol of carp using this virus – if we are to achieve meaningful long-term rehabilitation of our waterways and fish stocks.” Invasive Species Council CEO Mr Andrew Cox said, “We are right behind carp biological control.”
“Strong state and federal government investment will be needed to maximise the chance of success.
“It is essential that community engagement and on-ground clean-up efforts accompany the release of the virus so that water quality and native species fully benefit.” Mr Hansard said the benefits are clear.
“Research has revealed that about five million Australians fish recreationally, and that fishing is worth billions to the Australian economy,” he said.
“Carp impact significantly on a number of the species that recreational fishers love to catch.
“Quite a modest investment in Australia’s carp biocontrol program could deliver transformational change, both environmentally and economically.”