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Australia Plans to Release Herpes Virus in River to Eliminate European Carp Plague

May 03, 2016 12:56 PM EDT
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Australia will spend an estimated US $15 million to kill European carp in the country's largest waterway, the Murray-Darling river system.

According to ABC, The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia, through "National Carp Control Plan," they will be releasing a virulent strain of herpes virus called cyprinid herpesvirus-3, also known as koi herpesvirus (KHV), to exterminate 95 percent of carp in the river system over the next 30 years.

"We're looking at more than 500,000 tonnes of carp that will be killed, up to 2,000,000 tonne of carp," Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce told ABC, explaining that the virus will kill thousands of carps within few hours.

European carp is considered as Australia's worst fish pest. And it has been breeding in plague proportions in the Murray River. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said feeding behavior of these large fishes include digging down or amid vegetation, sucking up mouthfuls of silt and debris, somehow straining out food items for humans and bringing native fish numbers to the brink of extinction.

In addition, their number also does damage by slowing down the water use for irrigation to support the lives of 2 million people and $25 billion worth of fruit, grain and dairy every year.

Joyce adds the carp plague has been burdening the economy of Australia, making them lose up to $500 million a year.

"They are absolutely of no value in the sense of food chain within the system and if we can do anything to get rid of them and control them, it would be a better environment for us all to live in," Harold Clapham, Charlie Carp Director said in a video uploaded by WSJ.

The Federal Government has previosuly mentioned that the Carp will not infect other fish, animals or humans as they have already tested the koi herpes virus for nearly a decade.

Citing The Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail has reported the virus is an Indonesian strain of carp herpes that only affects European carp.

The virus, according to Australian Science Minister Christopher Pyne will stop the carps from breathing effectively.

"They have the virus for a week before they show any symptoms and it suddenly kills them within 24 hours," he told ABC News.

The virus is set to be released in 2018.

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