National Carp Control Plan
We're coordinating a large program of research and consultation to identify a smart, safe, effective and integrated suite of measures to control carp impacts. A key focus of this process will be to explore
the potential use of biocontrol.
Carp (Cyprinus carpio) have been in Australia for over 100 years and are now established in all states and territories, except the Northern
Territory. Carp impacts cost Australia about $500 million every year.
Carp completely dominate freshwater fish communities in southeastern Australia – in many areas they comprise over 80% of fish biomass, exceeding 350 kilograms per hectare in some parts of the Murray-Darling Basin.
Carp impacts are felt environmentally, economically and socially. They affect water quality, native fish, fishing and irrigation.
The key impacts of carp are as follows:
- Carp are ‘ecosystem engineers’ – modifying waterways as they suck up mud. They stir up silt and muddy the water, blocking sunlight to aquatic vegetation, and impacting plankton, aquatic invertebrates, waterbirds, and native fish.
- Carp are 'water wreckers' – their feeding activity lowers water quality and increases nutrient levels. They also impact zooplankton, which normally feed on microscopic planktonic algae. When combined, these factors can cause blue-green algal blooms that impact recreational use of waterways (i.e., swimming, skiing etc.).
- Carp are 'resource hogs' – they take valuable food away from native fish. This particularly impacts smaller native fish species, but also larger species higher up the food chain. Some native species, like Murray cod, eat small carp, but this is not their natural food source.
- Carp are 'trash fish' – getting in the way of natives. People go fishing to spend time with friends, get outdoors and maybe catch a few fish. Catching carp can be fun, but most anglers want to catch natives. Carp currently undermine the recreational fishing industry, worth billions of dollars.
- Carp are 'pump blockers' – they get into irrigation infrastructure and block pumps. This causes significant expense, through downtime and maintenance costs, for agricultural businesses.