The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the announcement by ministers Barnaby Joyce and Christopher Pyne of funding to prepare for the release of a carp-specific herpes virus in the Murray-Darling Basin to control the notorious feral fish.

“This is a good first step towards the control of carp, Australia’s worst freshwater pest,” said ACF’s Healthy Ecosystems Program Manager Jonathan La Nauze.

“ACF has been working on this initiative with scientists, invasive species experts, farmers and fishing groups and we are pleased the government has listened to our calls.

“These funds will enable the community consultation and planning that must be done if the virus is to be released safely and without undue impacts on river communities.

“Controlling carp is an essential part of the broader effort to restore the health of our rivers and native fish populations.

“Releasing the virus alone would be a wasted opportunity if it is not supported by other native fish recovery measures that are currently underfunded. 

“The legacy of past mismanagement in the Murray-Darling is that 21 out of the 23 major river valleys are in poor or very poor health, according to the Sustainable Rivers Audit.

“Carp thrive in this kind of degraded environment – in fact they make it worse by turning over the river bed, eroding the banks and literally muddying the water.

“Controlling carp must go hand-in-hand with rehabilitating riverbanks, making irrigation infrastructure fish-friendly and, of course, the release of environmental flows.”

In the upcoming federal budget and election campaign ACF will be looking to all parties to support the government’s leadership on carp control and back it up with a complete river health package that includes:

  • Renewed funding for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, both of which face funding uncertainty
  • New funding for a native fish recovery package
  • An ongoing commitment to deliver the Basin Plan on time and in full.

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910, tom.arup@acf.org.au; or Toby Halligan on 0419 403 016, toby.halligan@acf.org.au For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.