Carp - Resource or Rubbish?

Most people in Australia see Carp as nothing more than a pest that destroy our waterways & kill our native fish. With the proposed release of the Koi Herpes Virus CyHV-3 from the National Carp Control Plan (NCCP), Matt Barwick, NCCP Coordinator & deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, has stirred up a lot of debate regarding other options. Many of these options include utilizing Carp rather than trying to wipe them out. In this article, I plan to explore the idea of using Carp as a resource rather than rubbish.

On May 2nd 2016, Mr Barnaby Joyce, who is also Minister for Agriculture & Water Resources, made the following statement - “We are afflicted in the nation with these disgusting mud-sucking creatures, bottom dwelling, mud-sucking creatures.”  

Let’s start with Fertilizer. ‘Charlie Carp’ already utilize carp for the manufacture of a Natural based fertilizer, which is suitable for all plants & shrubs, including lawns, vegetables, flowers & indoor plants. In an article published by ABC’s Triple J, “Weaponising Herpes - What could possibly go wrong with Carpageddon?”, the owner of Charlie Carp is noted to have stated the company could expand production to take advantage of the increased supply.

Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce is quoted saying “Carp could take the place of Horse Manure or something”.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce screams "carp" & "mud-sucking creatures"

This tells us that the expansion & creation of companies like Charlie Carp could utilize more of the Carp biomass & at the same time reduce the amount of Chemical fertilizers used on farms & in homes, which vastly affect the health of our waterways when run offs occur after rain.

If the Koi Herpes Virus is released then it is very possible that this will no longer be an option.

Keith Bell, the fisherman who is responsible for almost all the Carp exported from the country in the last two decades, states that once the Carp begins rotting, it can’t be used for either pet food or fertiliser. He says that even if the fish could be collected in time (a matter of hours after dying), the volume would probably overwhelm processing facilities. Carp isn’t being used for pet food at the moment and the fertiliser industry only processes a couple of hundred tonnes per year, according to Keith.  

Now if we are to utilize Carp for Fertilizer on a larger scale this will also increase the need for Commercial Fishing Operators to catch them.

This leads me to my next point - Commercial Fishing & Export. Currently there appears to be no export of Carp. That does not mean the demand is not there for it. Keith Bell was exporting thousands of tonnes of Carp every year until 2015 when he sold up & moved overseas.

Keith, who was exporting a couple of thousand tonnes of Carp per year from Australia from the late 90’s until 2016, when he sold up & moved to Mississippi. In the article “Weaponising Herpes - What could possibly go wrong with Carpageddon?” he was further quoted in saying “It’s a wasted resource” & said that restrictions placed on what equipment he could use to catch the fish & restrictions to minimise the bycatch of native fish, made fishing Carp too expensive. By relaxing some of these restrictions on commercial fishing, it could possibly boost the export of Carp.

There are 33 countries around the world now afflicted with the Koi Herpes Virus & many of them use Carp as a food source for human & pet consumption. As this virus has only been known for a brief time, there is no known affect at this stage to humans & animal species. Back in the 1960’s cigarettes were promoted as being good for your health, it was also said that Asbestos was not harmful, today we know otherwise. This virus has not been around long enough for us to truly know the affects it will have & laboratory testing does not accurately reflect our natural environment.

Currently, Australia is in position to export “Disease Free” Carp to other countries as a food source, particularly to third world countries where starvation if rife. It could also be used to help restock ponds, farms & other waterways where diseased fish have been safely eradicated.

As a food source, Carp, if prepared correctly, can be quite a flavoursome fish. There are numerous instructional videos available on the Internet demonstrating the preparation & cooking of Carp. ‘The Hook & the Cook’ have a great recipe for Tempura Carp

Fish markets in Sydney & Canberra are selling Carp for $6 per kilo.

Obviously not all Carp can be consumed, largely due to pollution in the waterways, such as that in the Parramatta River.

If more people could get past the fact that Carp are a pest & actually give it a try, they would discover they are quite a good table fish. Carp contain lean protein & Omega 3 fatty acids which have numerous health benefits.

Carp could also be used to feed the homeless, who would be grateful for a plate of fish & a side of vegies & I am sure they would not care what species of fish it was.

Carp could also be used in pet food. Carp is not currently used as pet food in Australia, yet other countries do. Chicago based company ‘Bare It All Pet Foods’ make dog treats using Asian Carp, which they claim to reduce skin & fur problems suffered by many animals. Most pet foods use fish such as Tuna, Mackerel, Kingfish & Bonito to name a few.

Calculations by Deakin University researchers show an estimated 2.48 million tonnes of forage fish are used each year by the global cat food industry, with each cat in Australia consuming approximately 13.7 kilos of fish per year!  

Sydney Morning Herald – ‘Cats eating into World Fish Stocks’ -

Fish meal used in aquaculture also produces a strain on certain saltwater species such as Anchovy, Mackerel, Sprat, Eel, Pilchards, Sardines amongst others, & relieving this strain by replacing some of these species with Carp, would be of enormous benefit to the environment.

Lastly there is the “Sports” side of Carp fishing. Carp is rated in the top 10 best fighting sports fish throughout the world, obviously no match to Marlin or fish of that size but pound for pound it’s up there. In the UK, Europe, Asia & America, Carp fishing is a billion-dollar industry. Anglers spend a small fortune on rods & poles, baits, rigs & even barrows to transport all their gear to their fishing spot & tents (bivvies) and other camping equipment as a lot choose to spend a weekend fishing well stocked ponds.

Here is Australia, although not as popular as in other countries, there are still Coarse Angling Clubs in NSW, SA, Vic & WA that cater specifically for Carp fishing. Aussie Carp Fisho’s frequently arrange Social Days for members & the public to come along to have a fish.

All the above are suggestions on how to effectively reduce the Carp population in Australia without releasing a virus into our waterways, with no real idea of the impact this would have on native species & the environment. Furthermore, these suggestions could create employment, income & industry.

If the Koi Herpes Virus is released, unfortunately, most of these options will be off the table & the fish will no longer be able to be used as suggested.

If you would like to sign the petition to stop the release of the Koi Herpes Virus CyHV-3 click on the following link:

Article written by Hook-Eze Pro Staff Member Micheal Graham.

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