Carp cull could kill tourism

Carp cull could kill tourism

The multi-million dollar tourism industry built around the Murray River and Lower Lakes could be dealt a killer blow if the Federal Government doesn’t get its $15 million carp cull plan right, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said this week.

The Nick Xenophon Team MP said the plan to introduce the “herpes” virus to eradicate the voracious fish pest was a hot topic of discussion during a meeting with Hindmarsh Island-based developers this week.

“I recently met with Andrew Chapman from The Marina Hindmarsh Island and Best Aussie Adventures to discuss issues within the Goolwa, Hindmarsh Island and Lower Murray region,” Ms Sharkie said.

“He was worried that if the carp cull wasn’t done right and the region was left with thousands of tonnes of dead fish rotting in our waterways, it could do irreparable damage to the tourism image of the region.

“I agree with him. People forget that these are areas still recovering from the drought a decade ago.

“The rains have come but the visitors aren’t coming back in equal volumes with local feedback suggesting tourism figures are 40 per cent down on what they were pre-2006.

“We need to build up the image of the beautiful area that is the Goolwa, Hindmarsh Island and Lower Murray region not damage it.

“Carp are a highly destructive environmental pest and most people agree they ‘have to go’ but if the Federal roll-out of the herpes virus is not completely thorough, and the fall-out is not meticulously planned, Mayo stands to lose far too much.”

Ms Sharkie’s comments follow the announcement this week by Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to appoint freshwater ecologist Matt Barwick to lead the National Carp Control Plan.

The plan, due to be released by the end of 2018, will look at whether the virus should be released and, if it is, how to clean up the mess.

The experts say carp respond quickly to the specific herpes virus and could take between 48 hours and a week to succumb.

“As a keen fisher myself, I am concerned about the health of all the other species in our rivers and lakes given the huge depletion of oxygen in the water expected from the mass death of carp,” Ms Sharkie said.

“We could end up killing more than just carp, and how are we going to make sure we remove all the dead carp trapped on the banks, in caves and under trees in the labyrinth that is the Murray system?

“We need to make sure everything is right and all measures are in place before we go ahead with this plan.

“We also need to look at alternatives to the mass kill. There are international markets that prize carp and perhaps we need to look outside the square.

"I will be raising this issue with Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce in Federal Parliament in the coming weeks."