Wild carp (Cyprinus carpio) are an invasive species found throughout Australian freshwater systems. The species is well established throughout the Murray-Darling basin (MDB) and makes up to 90% of the fish biomass in some areas. There are concerns that carp are damaging the ecology of MDB waterways and competing with native species for food.
The Australian Federal government has developed the National Carp Control Plan which will assess the feasibility and potentially manage the release of Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3) as a biocontrol agent for the invasive carp. The virus is expected to reduce the carp population by between 70–95% within the first few years. Initial release at breeding sites is expected to wipe out primarily juvenile carp at first, followed by mature fish. It is anticipated bird-life will consume a large portion of the immature carp however deceased mature carp present an environmental challenge as their decomposition may impact upon water quality. The large mass of deceased carp will require a large scale clean-up and present a unique opportunity to be utilised for fish products.
Currently carp are harvested for use in fertiliser; however as estimates of the deceased biomass are in the hundreds of thousands of tonnes, other avenues for utilisation warrant further investigation. Compositional analysis, suitability of CyHV-3 infected fish for processing, pilot scale production trials and subsequent market appraisal is required to realise new product streams. Development of new products utilising the infected deceased carp will assist in the clean-up, reduce disposal costs and potentially generate income for the local economy.