If you’ve been fishing on Australian waterway, you’ve seen them. Flashy, silver and causing a whole lot of trouble. No, we're not talking about runaway wakeboarders, we’re talking about European carp. This destructive foreign pest may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the latest in biological animal warfare.
To hear that something has herpes is not usually a cause for celebration, but in terms of fish, it is. A highly contagious, virulent strain of the herpes virus will be released into the Murray Darling river system to control and hopefully eradicate the invasive European carp species.
Carp feed in the mud at the bottom of our inland waterways, fouling the water and out-competing native fish.
The announcement was made by Federal Minister for Science Christopher Pyne, who estimates that the virus will kill up to 95 per cent of the carp in the Murray-Darling river system over 30 years.
The virus attacks the carp’s ability to breathe, killing them within 24 hours of showing any symptoms. The strain of herpes, cyprinid herpesvirus-3, has been extensively tested and found to only kill common European carp while being harmless to both native fish and humans.
$15 million has been set aside for the project, much of which is expected to be used in clean-up programs as potentially hundreds of thousands of dead carp will need to be disposed of. The virus is set to be released in 2018.