Australia is planning to give its carp herpes. The government has already decided on a generous budget to infect the local fish population with the STD to limit its burgeoning population.
Australia will introduce a carp-specific herpes virus into its river systems in a desperate attempt to curtail, if not wipe out, the fish’s population in the country’s river systems. The virus is capable of killing individual fish within 24 hours. The country plans to eradicate about 95 percent of the carp population, reported ABC News.
The country has already earmarked $15 million for the project, which has been dubbed “carp-aggedon,” by the country’s Science Minister, Christopher Pyne. The money will be spent introducing the virus into the river system. However, the majority of the remaining funds will be utilized to clean the river systems and get rid of the huge quantity of dead fish, shared Pyne.
“Suddenly, there will be literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of tons of carp that will be dead in the River Murray”
Speaking about the plan to kill off the European carp and explaining how the herpes virus works, Pyne added, “It affects the European carp by attacking their kidneys, their skin, their gills and stopping them breathing effectively. They have the virus for a week before they show any symptoms and it suddenly kills them within 24 hours.”
Why is the country hell-bent on destroying the carp population? As the name implies, European carp isn’t a native species. It was deliberately introduced in the mid-19th century. The settlers to the southern continent hoped the freshwater fish would bring a taste of home to their food and recreational activity down under, reported Gizmag.
What the settlers didn’t anticipate was the massive surge of the carp population. Within a couple of centuries, the fish have become a pest and are threatening the country’s freshwaters. The species has been seriously compromising the health of its rivers and native species, shared Dr. Ken McColl, CSIRO Head Researcher at the Australian Animal Health Laboratories Carp Control Team.
“Because of the way carp feed, where they feed on either plant life or small invertebrates in the mud at the bottom of the river, they suck in an amount of material from the river bed and spit it out, sifting out the food that they want. So this process means that the water becomes very, very muddy and unclear, and that then stops plant life from growing because they can’t get enough light.
“It also upsets some of the invertebrate life, it upsets the breeding of some of the native fish species and because all of these things happen, it actually has impacts further up the line. So you stop getting a lot of bird life coming to the waters like ducks that feed on the plants, for example.”
What McColl essentially said was that the carp is a dangerous invasive species that is harming the country’s native wildlife at an alarming rate. The fish is devouring the limited food sources and thereby literally starving the other species to death. Australia’s government estimates the economic impact of the carp to be around $500 million per year, reported the Telegraph.
The carp is one of the most resilient species and is able to thrive in a variety of environments and habitats. The species now dominates Australia’s river system, comprising of about 80 percent of all fish biomass in the Murray-Darling Basin, noted Pyne.
The herpes virus will only affect the carp, and no other species will be harmed by the virus, reported the Guardian. Additionally, humans who accidentally consume the fish won’t be affected. The only issue facing the Australian government is the disposal of hundreds of thousands of tons of dead carp that will soon float to the surface, a problem that Florida had recently dealt with.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]