PARKS Victoria is undertaking an urgent European carp removal program from the Sale Common Nature Conservation Reserve to avoid a potential ‘black water event’.
During times of natural flooding, carp enter the wetlands from the Latrobe River and can co-exist with native species when the water levels are high.
However, the wetlands are now going through a natural drying phase, so the huge numbers of carp currently found within the Sale Common are rapidly deoxygenating the water as water levels recede.
Parks Victoria has had to act swiftly to remove up to 30 tonnes of carp to avoid a ‘mass fish kill’ event, which would ultimately affect the long-term health of the wetland and native aquatic animals such as platypus, eels, water rats and crustaceans.
Parks Victoria has engaged the services of local professional fishermen to catch the carp alive, and they will be transported in tanks for research purposes as part of the National Carp Control Plan.
They say this will prevent the degradation of the biodiversity of the wetlands, and is a humane outcome for the carp.
European carp were introduced into Australia in the 1800s.
They are a highly invasive freshwater fish species that feed on riverbeds, stirring up silt and degrading water quality.
Parks Victoria ranger team leader Chris Holmes said removing up to 30 tonnes of carp from Sale Common took about eight days.
“It is an unforeseen event that requires a substantial financial investment, however we made this decision for the long-term health and biodiversity of the wetlands,” he said.
“This will ensure the native species can continue to thrive in the future, and the wetlands can continue to be a place of enjoyment for locals and visitors alike.”
The Sale Common Nature Conservation Reserve is part of the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site, meaning it’s recognised for its international importance with the aim of conservation for future generations.
It is the only freshwater wetland within the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site, and is a popular natural attraction and recreation area regularly used by locals and visitors.