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Nation to fight invasive carp with herpes
Published: Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, said the only way to wipe out European carp from its waters is to unleash herpes on it.
The 15-million-Australian-dollar ($11 million) eradication program, dubbed Carpageddon, was created to clean the Murray-Darling Basin of carp.
The bottom-dwelling fish was first introduced to Australian waters in 1859, but populations exploded in the 1960s after a fish-farming strain was released into the wild.
Now carp make up an estimated 80 to 90 percent of the fish biomass within the basin, which is Australia’s most important agricultural area. Joyce said the invasive species has been costing the government up to AU$500 million per year.
To address the issue, the federal government wants to infect the fish with cyprinid herpes virus (carp herpes virus). Some say releasing the virus would kill about 95 percent of the carp.
Science minister Christopher Pyne said the virus would not have any human impacts, although fish cleanup would be costly, as thousands of fish are projected to die once it is released.
“Suddenly, there will be literally hundreds of thousands if not millions of tonnes of carp that will be dead in the River Murray,” Pyne said (BBC News, May 2). — AK
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