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Fresh call to implement National Carp Program

Governments are being urged to take necessary action that will reduce the damage to river systems by European carp.


A range of organisations claim the failure to address this problem contravenes a direction in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to ‘do no harm’ to river environments.


The carp are doing harm, and river scientists have shown the increased flows under the Basin Plan will make the problem worse. There is also frustration that a solution has been on the table for years, but governments are doing nothing about it.


The latest campaign is an initiative of Speak Up, which represents communities in northern Victoria and southern NSW. It says in 2016 the Commonwealth announced a $15 million investment to develop the National Carp Program, as a long-term biological control program for the invasive species.


However, it has been paused because governments are concerned about the potential for mass carp kills and the temporary impact they may have.


Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar said it is time to take affirmative action to halt the damage being caused by carp, saying “we have the tools and experts living amongst us, and it is time to demand the control program is implemented. The science is done, so stop delaying and commit to implementing it in full.



“Carp are harming our rivers, and the increased flows and floodplain inundation under the Basin Plan are supporting carp proliferation. These ‘rabbits of the river’ decrease native species populations and also have a negative impact on the broader ecological community, resulting in a decline in species diversity. Carp increase water turbidity, which in turn decreases water quality.


“The research is clear and we have numerous river scientists who have prepared reports proving the damage being caused, yet still nothing is done,” she said.


Mrs Scoullar said there have been previous efforts to implement the National Carp Program, but they have been “fobbed off” by politicians.


“Agriculture Ministers claim it is not in their remit, when clearly invasive species are their responsibility, and unbelievably there has been a similar response from Environment Ministers who are in charge of the water that is exacerbating the infestation. With increasing evidence about the unintended consequences of environmental watering, including carp population explosion, the issue can no longer be ignored.


“Speak Up, with the support of various other organisations, has written to Government Ministers at state and federal level, imploring them to voice their concern about the manner in which advice provided by the nation’s fish experts has been ignored, and demanding the Commonwealth prioritises implementation of the National Carp Control Program.


“This needs to occur before there are any water buybacks, as storing and releasing more water will only exacerbate a serious problem.


“It is quite incredible that over a century ago we had governments that identified the damage being caused to our land by rabbits, an introduced species whose population exploded.


“Yet in the 21st century, with all the science and control methods, we have these ‘rabbits of the river’ continuing their untold and unchecked damage, but modern day governments do not have the courage to fix it. That must change. We have the National Carp Control Program, so implement it in full, because without it we will spend billions on a Basin Plan that is  breeding more carp,” Mrs Scoullar said.

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