CARP PLAN: Dr Tony Piddocke from the National Carp Control Plan, gathering feedback at the community meeting in St George on Thursday, 28 February.
CARP PLAN: Dr Tony Piddocke from the National Carp Control Plan, gathering feedback at the community meeting in St George on Thursday, 28 February. Contributed

Reeling in pest fish

FISHING club members cast their feedback about carp control measures and native fishing experiences in and around St George, the "Inland Fishing Capital of Queensland” at a forum at the Balonne Cultural Centre last week.

Representatives from Thallon, Surat, St George and Dirranbandi fishing clubs travelled to discuss a number of topics relevant to their catchment areas including general river health, drought and fish numbers, both native and pest species.

The event was hosted on Wednesday by the Queensland Murray-Darling Committee in partnership with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland.

Club and community members heard presentations from the National Carp Control Plan, which is exploring possible use of a species-specific virus as a biological control method for carp in Australian waterways.

Participants also heard from QMDC, which is developing a native fish management plan within the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin.

They also provided important feedback on their local area, including recent fishing experiences within the Basin.

Attendees were particularly interested in learning more about work demonstrating the virus being considered for use to control carp was species-specific, and how to deliver a safe and effective clean-up strategy should it go ahead, while the main concerns for native fishing included water quality, littering and education of recreational fishers locally as well as visitors to the region.

Liz and Greg Spackman have been members of the Thallon Amateur Fishing Club for 15 years. They travelled an hour to attend the forum and said the water situation in their area has been getting worse and worse.

"We've been fishing all of our lives. We have three kids and seven grandkids and fishing has always been something we've done together. We haven't really been able to fish in Thallon lately though because there's no water to fish in,” Mrs Spackman said.

Greg and Debra Richardson from the Surat Fishing and Restocking Club said they had no trouble with water, however, agreed that native fish management was an important topic to accompany the discussions about carp control.

"We've been re-stocking natives such as Murray cod and yellowbelly near the Surat bridge every year and seeing less and less carp which we're hoping is a positive sign that the natives are fighting back,” Mr Richardson said.

QMDC CEO Geoff Penton said it was positive to hear fishing clubs continue to be engaged with carp removal initiatives while actively contributing to a native fish management plan for the region.

"The sessions were a really good start to thinking about the potential for drastically reducing carp impacts on the river. I would like to particularly thank the Queensland Government Representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the staff from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) for making the event a success,” he said.

Dr Toby Piddocke from the National Carp Control Plan agreed that community insights were invaluable to planning and informing development of a long-term strategy for the control of carp impacts in Australian waterways.

The plan is being produced with support from a grant from the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund. Visit qmdc.org.au for forum details.