Sidney – The Australian government announced over the weekend a $15 million plan to combat invasive carp by releasing a herpes virus into one of the largest river systems, according to a report by United Pres International. The species are causing a severe ecological damage and the invasive carp represent an annual cost of $500 million.
During the next 2.5 years, the herpes strain cyprinid herpesvirus 3 will be released into the Murray-Darling system, where invasive carp species account for more than 80 percent of the fish.
“We would expect to release the virus by the end of 2018, because as you can imagine there is a lot of work to be done in preparation for the outcome,” Australian Science Minister Christopher Pyne said at a press conference on Sunday, UPI reported.
It was not necessary to explain, but he added that the move will suddenly leave hundreds of thousands of tons of dead carp in the River Murray. Officials expect the virus to eliminate between 80 and 90 percent of carp.
The virus has been tested for safety and scientists have determined it poses little risk to humans or other species because its complex DNA prevents it from moving to new hosts.
However, Richard Kingsford, a scientist at the University of New South Wales, told New Scientists that this plan was one of those tricky biological control measures that did not come without risks. He thought it was a great idea, though. According to UPI, the main risk is that the carp quickly become resistant to the herpes virus.
The Australian government pointed out in a press release that, even though the carp may develop resistance over time, numbers will never recover to the initial levels.
Carp became a major issue in the 1960s
Carp was first introduced in the continent in 1859 but an accidental release of a strain that had been used for fish farming started the major problem in the 1980s. Since then, the female carp has been producing as much as a million eggs every year. Australia’s Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne, described the species as a “nasty pest”, as reported by CNN.
The government says the carp causes erosion and threaten native fish by out-competing them for food and other resources and pushing them towards extinction.
Source: United Press International