National carp plan held up

Matt Barwick (inset).
Matt Barwick (inset).

The carpocalypse has been delayed.

National Carp Control Plan (NCCP) coordinator Matt Barwick has confirmed that the deadline for his work – creating a plan to reduce the number of pest fish in the Murray-Darling Basin – is likely to be pushed back.

He has asked for a 12-month extension.

Mr Barwick said more research was needed to explore the possible consequences of the NCCP's preferred method: the release of a herpes virus into the river system.

"That old saying 'we don't know what we don't know', it's certainly the case in this instance," he said.

"In any large, science-based initiative, when you're breaking new ground you find new things you didn't know you needed to know more about."

Equally important was the need for research findings to be peer-reviewed to ensure they could stand up to scrutiny.

"We want to do it right," he said.

"We want to make sure the advice provided is based on the best evidence available."

He promised there would also be an "extensive" consultation process which would allow interest groups such as commercial fishers, tourism operators and owners of ornamental koi to influence the final carp control plan.

But he could not provide specific details, as he said negotiations were ongoing between the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), which is auspicing the NCCP.

Prior to Mr Barwick's comments, it was already apparent key NCCP deadlines were not being hit.

A draft of the plan was due to be published in July.

The FRDC first suggested in June that that deadline might not be achieved, but has made no announcement since.

Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud was unavailable for comment this week.