Australia postponed decision on release of KHV for another 12 months

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Australia postponed decision on release of KHV for another 12 months

October 16, 2018 - 09:26

The Australian government has postponed the decision to release Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) for a year, so they can continue to study the timing and effects.

'Carpageddon' won't be seen for at least another 12 months in Australia, with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources approving an extension to the development of the carp herpes virus.
Key points:

    Plans to eradicate carp numbers in Australia have been put on hold for at least a year
    Carp can grow to monstrous sizes in rivers and creeks
    More research will be done to research potential immunity to the virus in carp

The extension will allow time for researchers to look into the current knowledge gaps and speak with more stakeholders.

It will also prevent the Government — which dubbed the plan 'Carpageddon' — from taking a gamble on current research.

National Carp Control Plan coordinator Matt Barwick said it was good news that would allow for a more comprehensive and educated plan when the time comes.

"We're really happy to have an additional 12 months to enable us to do some additional science, engage with new stakeholder groups, which is all really important in developing a really robust plan," he said.

"One of the dominant messages that we've received is [that] this is exciting, the possibility of controlling carp and helping to restore the waterways is good, but let's get this right.

    "That means let's do the right research and let's take the time it takes to inform a really good quality plan.

"So this extension is largely us listening to the messages we're getting from communities… we need to understand more detail around exactly how the virus transmits."

Timing of virus 'really important'

Mr Barwick said one aspect of particular importance was the impact of seasonality on the virus, which if introduced at the wrong time could cause immunity in carp.

"When we look around the world as we have been at outbreaks from this virus, it operates within a specific temperature range, but there are some times when the temperatures are right but the virus doesn't cause an outbreak and we need to know why, that's really important," he said.

"The virus operates between about 16-28 degrees Celsius, so within that temperature range the virus can replicate in carp and cause disease and that's great, but cooler than [or] warmer than that and a carp can become infected and not die, but become a carrier."

He said the extra 12 months would give them enough time to provide an accurate and well-researched plan for the Government to make a decision.

"Ultimately like everyone in Australia, we're looking forward to seeing what the research turns up in terms of essentially answering the question, is this viable to control carp in this way in Australia?"

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation is leading the development of the plan through a $10.2 million grant, alongside relevant Commonwealth agencies, state and territory governments and research agencies.

The extension of the plan does not include any extra funding.

Benefits of successful control

Head of biosecurity policy at the department Josephine Laduzko said the additional time would allow for critical research to continue.

"We want to ensure the issues encountered from the work undertaken so far are addressed, as well as questions raised through community and stakeholder consultation," Ms Laduzko said.

"Successful control of carp would improve water quality and bring benefits to farmers, industry, communities and the environment, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin.

"This is a comprehensive and coordinated assessment, and once completed, will play a critical role in the Government's decision on whether or not to proceed with release of the virus.

"Whether to release the carp virus to control carp is a big decision and it is essential that we get this early work right. There will be extensive further public consultation before any final decisions are made."

Source: Dated 10-12-18

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