We're coordinating a large program of research and consultation to identify a smart, safe, effective and integrated suite of measures to control carp impacts. A key focus of this process will be to explore the potential use of biocontrol.
Carp are a big problem. Various attempts have been made to control them – for decades – without much success. Now, a carp-specific virus, already present in over 30 countries, has the potential to reduce carp numbers in Australia by over 70%. Such a reduction would have dramatic benefits for water quality, aquatic vegetation, native fish, fishing and irrigation.
While the efficacy of the carp virus is well-proven, a lot of hard work is required to ensure it’s a good option for Australia and, if it is deployed in the fight against carp, that it's safe and effective. So, we’re setting out to answer the big questions we are all asking as Australians who care about our rivers, our environment, our health, our communities and our economy.
Clear water in a small spot free of carp, Northern Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve 2011. Image: Tom Rayner.
Our job, within the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, is to lead a $15-million planning process, on behalf of the Australian Government. At the end of 2018, we will make recommendations based on the evidence gained during this process, in a document entitled ‘The National Carp Control Plan’.
Our key objectives are to:
- undertake research and development to address key knowledge gaps;
- better understand and manage risks around carp control;
- plan for an integrated approach to control carp in Australia’s waterways;
- build community awareness and understanding of the proposal to release the carp virus;
- identify and address stakeholders’ and communities’ concerns about that proposal;
- develop detailed strategies for carp control and subsequent clean-up; and,
- support national coordination on all elements of the NCCP’s development.
Native species are set to benefit from carp control. This Murray cod has a research tag fitted. Image: Tom Rayner.
The National Coordinator, Matt Barwick, leads the NCCP. He is supported by a project team that includes contributions from the FRDC, as well as Australian Government representatives from various departments, and reports to a series of national committees. Details can be found in the National Coordinator Terms of Reference.
The task is obviously complex and full of challenges. That's unsurprising, given the scale of the project, the sheer biomass of carp in our rivers, the overlapping environmental, economic, social and cultural factors, and the amount of legislation carp control touches.
To guide us through the process, we have enlisted support in key areas. Their role is to provide advice, guide decision-making and oversee the NCCP. Working groups have also been established in collaboration with the Invasive Plants and Animals Committee to provide input into communication and engagement activities, and contribute to development of the NCCP.
- The Science Advisory Group members are experts in aquatic ecology, fish virology/epidemiology, water management, social science, emergency response and human health.
- The Policy Advisory Group comprises policy specialists from each jurisdiction, and is assisting with identifying and addressing legislative considerations.
- The Operations Working Group includes the NCCP ‘state leads’, who will contribute to the detail of the Plan itself.
- The Communications Working Group are comms experts focused on the successful engagement of the Australian community in controlling carp impacts..
Should a decision be made to implement a control plan that includes deploying the carp virus as one of a series of measures, this will be managed by the relevant state and territory governments through existing inter-jurisdictional governance structures.
That decision will not be made before the end of 2018. In the meantime, we're pressing on with the job at hand – driving research into key questions and listening to the community.
Read more about what we’re doing.