September 19, 2023

National Carp Control Plan handed over to Department of Agriculture after years of delay

The National Carp Control Plan (NCCP) which will determine whether or not a carp herpes virus should be released into Australian waterways has been handed over to the Federal Government.

It comes after years of delays, which the Department of Agriculture has called “inevitable and unpredictable”, blaming the coronavirus pandemic among other things.

The plan was developed by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) to assess the feasibility of using cyprinid herpesvirus 3 as a method of controlling the pest species.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt and his state and federal counterparts have yet to see the plan and no decision has been made on the potential future release of the virus at this point.

Plan not yet public

The NCCP, which was previously criticized for its lack of transparency under the leadership of the former government, is currently not accessible to the public.

The FRDC was the agency responsible for developing the carp plan and some scientific work was carried out with CSIRO.(Rural ABC)

The ministry said the plan would be made public on its website “once all documentation meets accessibility requirements and all research papers have been finalized by their respective authors.”

But shadow agriculture minister and National Party leader David Littleproud said Mr Watt needed to bypass the bureaucracy and step in to publish the plan.

“The community needs to see this report, we need to trust this report, there should be no controversy,” he said.

‘I simply have no idea why the Labor Government won’t release the report immediately so that everyone can see it, skim it and have an opinion.’

Mr Littleproud, who was previously minister responsible for the NCCP when the National Liberals were in government, himself delayed delivery of the plan, giving the FRDC extra time to complete additional scientific work.

“I think it was reasonable [at the time], but the additional scientific research has been done now and enough time has passed. It’s time to deliver the plan,” he said.

“The interim recommendations that the FRDC provided to me were that the virus would eradicate approximately 96% [of carp].

“But there were issues around the speed of deployment to ensure there were no unintended environmental consequences of rotting fish in the system causing water problems.”

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture said that “all jurisdictions and the Australian Government will require time to review the NCCP, which includes reviewing the plan and associated documentation and reviewing next steps. “.

“[This] includes the Environment and Invasive Species Committee and the National Biosafety Committee…and the Minister will only review it once it has been reviewed by the relevant committees.

“Any potential future release of the carp virus will not occur without further consideration, agreement from all relevant jurisdictions, and extensive stakeholder consultation,” the department confirmed.

A dog holds a carp in its mouth.
Shadow Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said interim advice showed the herpes virus could eradicate the majority of Australian carp.(Provided: Mark Ireson)