Dubbo Catches: Research into fish herpes

Trials are under way to best process the countless tonnes of dead carp, should the carp herpes virus is released in Australia.

Trials are under way to best process the countless tonnes of dead carp, should the carp herpes virus is released in Australia.

Researchers are investigating options for the sustainable use of the dead carp that will result from the potential release of Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (carp virus), under the National Carp Control Plan.

The research project involves laboratory-based processing trials, as well as commercial-scale trials of processes that produce usable carp-based products including fertilisers, compost, fishmeal and aquaculture feed ingredients.

Lead researcher Dr Janet Howieson from Curtin University, said the objective is to provide the NCCP with a range of efficient, effective and appropriate uses for carp, and that all methods are being carefully explored.

“The research is designed to deliver detailed cost-benefits analyses of the various carp utilisation processes being investigated including attention to harvest strategies, transport logistics and fish quality at various locations,” Dr Howieson said.

“Identifying local solutions and a community based approach to using carp biomass is a key component of the project.”

Researchers recently completed a commercial-scale trial in partnership with Goulburn Valley Water in Victoria to separate two tonnes of dead carp into solids for local composting trials and liquids for further laboratory-based digestion trials looking at biogas production. 

Another 300kg of whole carp was sent to a nearby worm farm.

This followed a similar trial in Port Lincoln, South Australia using enzyme hydrolysis to break down 10 tonnes of carp biomass into smaller peptides and amino acids, which can be used for organic fertiliser or as an aquaculture or animal feed ingredient.

Outcomes for the remaining bones and scales are also being investigated.

NCCP National Coordinator Matt Barwick says identifying economically viable and productive uses for carp is an essential part of the NCCP’s clean-up strategy.

“We know there are large volumes of carp in our waterways, so working out what to do with the carp biomass if biocontrol proceeds provide us with a measured approach to help inform NCCP recommendations and the subsequent decision-making process,” Mr Barwick said.