Australia has a carp problem. According to Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce, managing the fish — also known as "Australia's worst freshwater aquatic pest" — costs about $500 million per year. Researchers, however, have developed a novel way of dealing with the problem: a carp-specific herpes virus called Cyprinid herpesvirus. And on Sunday, the government announced that it would put $15 million of its annual budget toward using the virus to eradicate the carp population. Carpe diem, amirite?
Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt noted that the funding included plans to release the virus by the end of 2018. It will first be released into the Murray-Darling Basin, the output of which yields billions of dollars a year, according to the government. Hunt says that carp have endangered many native fish species that live in the Basin.
"Anyone who loves the Murray knows what damage the carp have caused to the river environment over many years," Christopher Pyne, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, said in a press release.
The Guardian reports that researchers at CSIRO, the government's scientific research agency, has been working toward a herpes cure (but not the gross one that humans get!) for about seven years. The researchers say the virus isn't harmful to other species of fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, which makes them "confident" it won't harm humans.
As for what the carp can expect when they come into contact with the virus, it doesn't sound great. The herpes virus attacks the skin and kidneys and typically kills the fish in a day. As for disposal, the researchers said that the virus will likely target juvenile populations of carp, which will then be picked up by birds.
While at least one fisherman is concerned about the cleanup, Christopher Pyne proposed a few solutions.
"We're going to either turn them into fertiliser, or pet food maybe, or dig enormous holes and put them in there," he said, according to ABC News.
Australia's cats must be thrilled.
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