Asian carp

Australians Debate Carp Herpes Solution

North America isn’t the only part of the world where invasive carp are considered a major pest. Carp originating in Asia were imported to Australia more than 100 years ago, and have since become a major aquatic nuisance. They are prolific in the Murray and Darling river basins and are found everywhere except in Australia’s tropical north.

In Australia and other parts of the world, the fish known as Asian carp in the U.S. (because they were imported from Asia in the 1970s) are called European carp.

Back in November, Australian officials released The National Carp Control Plan, which assesses the feasibility of using cyprinid herpes virus 3, also known as the carp virus or koi herpesvirus, as a biological agent to control carp populations.

The virus damages the kidneys, skin and gills of carp. It is distinct from the sexually-transmitted herpes diseases that impact humans and cannot infect people. According to one Australian website, the virus “is highly specific to carp, including the koi variety, and only causes death in carp, with no other fish known to be affected, even the closely related goldfish.”

Australia does not have any native fish species closely related to carp, so they are not susceptible to the virus. However, the report recommends further research before such a step is taken. One anticipated problem is that the virus kills carp so quickly that huge floats of dead fish could pollute waterways and decrease oxygen.