Saturday, May 14, 2016

Australia to launch $11.4 million program to infect carp with herpes virus

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has told the Australian parliament that the only way to get rid of carp is to infect the fish with a form of the herpes virus.

Joyce described the carp as "disgusting, bottom-dwelling, mud-sucking creatures." Although infecting carp with herpes might seem like an overreaction, Carpagedon became official policy on May 1. While the carp was introduced into Australia long ago in 1859, it became a major problem only in the 1960s when a strain adapted for fishing farming accidentally was released. Christopher Pyne, Australia's Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science said: "The common carp is a nasty pest in our waterways and makes up 80 percent of fish biomass in the Murray Darling Basin." Joyce estimated the economic damage caused by carp is almost $400 million a year.
Another source puts the funding of the program at $15 million over two-and-a-half years but that is probably in Australian dollars. The money would be used to fund the National Carp Control Plan to undertake further research, approvals, and consultation for a comprehensive plan for a potential release of Cyprinid herpesvirus (carp herpesvirus) by the end of 2018 into selected Australian waterways:This virus, once known as koi herpesvirus, is now formally known as Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3). Seven years of CSIRO research, supported by the Invasive Animals-Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), has shown that the use of CyHV-3 as a biocontrol agent could significantly reduce the number of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in our rivers.
The plan will aim at maximizing reduction in carp populations while minimizing disruption of communities, industry, and the environment.
The carp family has many different species including goldfish and koi that are often kept in aquariums or ponds as ornamental fish.. The herpes virus unfortunately appears to infect and kill all carp species. While many consider the carp a nuisance fish, others consider it a fine fish for angling. Even in the US there are organizations that promote carp fishing. As well as angling, carp are often targets of bow fishers. Even in 1653 Izaak Walton wrote in the Compleat Angler:"The Carp is the queen of rivers; a stately, a good, and a very subtle fish; that was not at first bred, nor hath been long in England, but is now naturalised."
While many regard the carp as a rough fish not to be used for food, in many parts of the world it is still a food fish and there are carp raised on fish farms. However, the herpes virus has wiped out some of these farms. The virus swept Europe last year. Carp production is a major form of aquaculture in Central, Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation. In Asia carp farming continues to be greater than the farmed fish volume of tuna and salmon.


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