Carp control with a virus

Putta Bucca Carp Muster 2017.
Putta Bucca Carp Muster 2017.

A substantial investment has been made under Australia’s National Carp Control Plan (NCCP) to explore the viability of using the carp virus, Cyprinid herpesvirus 3, to control the pest species, carp, in Australia’s waterways, and ultimately improve water quality and ecosystem health.

A comprehensive research program is central to this approach under the Australian Government’s $15 million NCCP, to address remaining knowledge gaps and understand key risks and opportunities.

The University of Adelaide is leading two pieces of research looking at key aspects of water quality. One project will assess risk of anoxia – no oxygen – in rivers, wetlands and floodplain habitats following carp mortalities, while the other will investigate risk of harmful bluegreen algal blooms caused by carp mortality events, and how best to avoid them.

“We acknowledge that low oxygen levels - something that already occurs from time to time in some Australian waterways - and algal blooms are a concern for stakeholders so both of these research projects are vitally important,” NCCP National Coordinator Matt Barwick said.

Principal Researcher Professor Justin Brookes, Director of the Water Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, said, “we know oxygen is very dynamic in aquatic ecosystems and some areas and habitat types already experience low oxygen levels from time to time, because oxygen can change with things like wind flow, velocity and high dissolved organic carbon”.

“Under the anoxia research project we are combining field-based experiments with hydrodynamic-biogeochemical modelling to help us understand how carp density and flow might alter the risk of hypoxia or anoxia,” says Prof Brookes. Meanwhile, the related project looking at risk of bluegreen algae blooms aims to determine how mortality of carp following the potential carp virus release may affect nutrient concentrations.

Mid-Western Regional Council and Local Land Services hold the Putta Bucca Carp Muster in February.