The corporation in charge of plans to release a herpes virus into waterways to kill carp says Hunter residents will be consulted.
National Carp Control Plan coordinator Matt Barwick said speaking with stakeholders and encouraging the community to have a say was a key part of its agenda and consultation would begin as soon as possible.
Mr Barwick, dubbed the carpinator, is the expert leading the team at Fisheries Research Development Corporation who is creating the nationwide carp extermination plan.
He said CSIRO research into elements of the plan showed the need to act was becoming more urgent as carp numbers in river systems continued to escalate, leaving native fish numbers dwindling.
Mr Barwich said carp made up 80 per cent of the fish in waterways across the country, which was having a negative impact on water quality and native fauna and flora.
“The native fish aren’t doing so well, they are at 10 per cent of what they were before European were around,” he said.
“We can’t expect our waterways to improve in their health and water quality to improve if nothing is done.”
Mr Barwick said the waterborne herpes virus had been used around the world to kill carp and evidence showed it did not harm other aquatic species or humans.
“It is a fish herpes virus and it’s only specific to carp,” he said.
Hunter Environment Lobby has spoken out about the plan, saying the dead carp could strip the oxygen out of the water, which would have a devastating impact on other aquatic species.
But while Mr Barwick said a clean up would be needed where carp populations were high, he said research so far had not suggested that would occur. He said students at the University of Technology in Sydney and University of Adelaide were studying the impact of dead carp on water quality to ensure it would not harm the ecosystem.
He also noted a clean up in high population areas would be needed to make sure the culling program did not impact upon recreational water activities.