Communities to have their say on carp plan

Contributed by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

The destructive carp that infest most waterways on the eastern seaboard have every reason to be shivering with fear.

Since the Australian Government’s announcement on 1 May 2016 that it is investing $15 million to address the problem of carp in Australia, a team headed by the ‘carpinator’ Mr Matt Barwick within the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), has been tasked with developing a plan for the potential release a biological control agent known as Cyprinid herpesvirus 3, or ‘carp virus’’.

Over the next 24 months, Matt Barwick will oversee more research, develop plans for the potential release of the virus and the clean up, and lead broad scale community and stakeholder engagement to get on-the-ground ideas on how a possible virus release could be managed.

Estimates suggest carp biomass in Australian waterways may exceed 500,000 tonnes in the near future.

“We will work closely with government, industry, environmental and communities to understand the local issues and to develop the National Carp Control Plan by the end of 2018,” Mr Barwick said.

The carp virus will not be released unless all required legislative approvals have been received and there is support in all Australian jurisdictions for the release of the virus. The release will also not go ahead unless there is a comprehensive plan in place to support clean up activities following the release of the virus.

“The carp virus was first discovered in Israel in 1998 and has had devastating impacts on carp populations across 33 countries,” he said.

Following years of testing under Australian conditions, CSIRO scientists are confident that the carp virus is specific to carp and won’t cause disease in any other fish, animals or humans.

“From here we need to do more R & D and develop detailed plans to support the potential release of the virus and subsequent clean up and rehabilitation of native fish ecosystems activities that would follow.”

“In particular we will assess if the virus can reduce carp abundance to below levels that cause ecological impacts at an acceptable cost.”

Extensive community engagement will be a focus over the coming months to take on board local input and ensure that the national approach developed is supported by local communities directly affected.

“There will be opportunities for all Australians, including Landcare groups, to play a role in the planning stage and I encourage those interested and affected to have their say,” Matt stated.

Common carp is the worst freshwater aquatic pest in south-eastern Australia. They damage Australia’s unique biodiversity, primarily through increasing water turbidity from their bottom-feeding behaviour.

‘There is a social and economic value of our waterways and fisheries, and this pest is affecting recreational water users, irrigators, water treatment processes, tourism operators and recreational fishers to name a few,’ he continued.

Matt Barwick is trained in environmental science and has years of experience and extensive networks in fisheries research and management in both government and non-government sectors.

For further information on the Carp Control Plan visit

Carp facts:

  • Carp are present in all states and territories except the Northern Territory and are estimated to comprise more than 80 percent of the total fish biomass in many Australian waterways, and up to 93% in some areas.
  • The Australian Government has invested $15 million to develop the National Carp Control Plan.
  • Further research will be undertaken over the next two years, but current estimates suggest that carp biomass in Australian waterways may exceed 500,000 tonnes.


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