There was a good turnout at the National Carp Control Plan consultation evening at the Forbes Inn on Wednesday evening.
The session in Forbes was the NCCP’s 183rd session. With over 30 people attending and representation from fishers, landholders, government, environmental and community, there was a good deal of questions regarding the Plan, timeframe, process and generally, a positive feeling in the room, with support for action to address the problem.
With the overarching goal of restoring native biodiversity through the Plan, the evening gave an overview of the carp problem as it exists in Australia and a few comparisons with similar situations globally.
The Dominic Nowlan from the Central West Local Land Services gave an overview of some of the work that has been undertaken on riparian areas along the Lachlan River, including habitat mapping between Cottons Weir and Booberoi Weir and looked at key management actions to address threatening processes, including stock management through protective fencing and alternative watering points. They also looked at weed control of pest plant species such as blackberry, African boxthorn, sweet briar, willows and Osage Orange.
Other actions included attaching pump screens, restoration of native vegetation through direct seeding. He also flagged the importance of education and awareness programs for land managers, with particular regard to stock management in riparian areas.
Brett Smith from DPI Fisheries gave an overview of the importance of restoring fish passage and gave some examples of work completed to improve passage.
Brett also spoke about the importance of not looking at one single ‘silver bullet’ to fix the carp problem. It needs to be a holistic approach.
Jamie Allnutt, Project Manager for the NCCP, reiterated these thoughts, explaining that the Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (the carp virus) is not a one hit wonder.
The Plan is being prepared to explore the use of the virus to control carp. This is a $15 million program being delivered through Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) on behalf of the Australian Government. According to the NCCP guides, the program is, in essence, risk assessment, research, planning and consultation to identify a smart, safe, effective and integrated suite of measures to control carp impacts, with a key focus on the possible use of biocontrol.
European Carp (Cyprinus carpio) were introduced into Australia approximately 180 years ago, establishing successfully in the 1960s and are now the dominant species of fish in our waterways in southeastern Australia and present in every state and the ACT. Shockingly, they dominate some areas making up to 80 percent of the total weight, or biomass of fish present.
One of the major issues, apart from outcompeting our native species for food and resources, is that they affect water quality by stirring up sediment with their bottom feeding behaviour.
A few interesting facts about the virus: the optimal temperature is 18 – 28 degrees to spread, impact and kill a carp; once a carp receives the virus, regardless of the temperature, it always remains viable and will wait for the perfect conditions to impact the fish; close contact between fish is required to spread the virus.
With any eradication program, there are always going to be challenges, and it may be a case of short term pain for long term gain in terms of release and impact. I think we all would agree that something needs to be done and this is a positive step forward to address the problem.
For more information about anything in this article, please contact Central West Lachlan Landcare on 02 6862 4914, firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook or our website at centralwestlachlanlandcare.org
Until next week, happy Landcaring!