Friday 15 January 2016

Australian environmentalists want to use herpes virus to kill invasive carp

JANUARY 13, 2016

by Susanna Pilny

 Australian fishers, farmers, and environmentalists have taken enough crap from carp—and they’re calling for deadly measures. According to the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), they’re aiming for a virus to be released that will wipe out most of the carp population.

Carp is a species that was introduced to Australia around 1859, although they didn’t really take off in terms of population until the early 1900s. Since then, they have become a growing problem, as they feed on the bottoms of rivers, making the water cloudy. This harms native fish’s ability to reproduce, and also stunts plant growth. Besides this, carp also are direct competitors with other native species for habitats, and have even been known to feed on their young.

Because of this, there have been huge declines in the populations of native fish across freshwater ecosystems—especially in the Murray-Darling Basin, an inland waterway that encompasses around one-seventh of Australia’s landmass.

Now, some of Australia’s largest fishing, farming, and environmental groups—such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, National Farmers' Federation, Invasive Species Council, and the National Irrigators' Council—are calling for carp annihilation.

Koi herpes virus to annihilate crappy carp

Their hope rests on the koi herpes virus (KHV), a DNA-based virus that is of the same family as (you guessed it) herpes simplex virus. The first recognized case of the virus occurred in the UK in 1996, and it has been known to kill up to 100 percent of all carp while ignoring other fish species—which would have obvious benefits.

According to Allan Hansard, the head of the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, should the virus prove effective, inland waterways would return to almost the same condition they were in before the carp were introduced.

"People say inland waterways like the Murray-Darling used to be clear, wouldn't it be great to see that?" Hansard said to the

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