Australia will use herpes to destroy pesky carp fish

Carp, a pest fish in Australia, will be facing an epidemic sometime around 2018, at least if the Australian government follows through with a newly announced plan. The nation's deputy prime minister has announced "carpageddon," a program that will use a herpes virus to eradicate the European carp and, hopefully, make it possible for native species to better thrive in local waterways.

According to deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, the program has focused on the Murray-Darling basin and will cost about $15 million Australian. The subject is a type of carp that originates from Europe, having first made its way to Australia in the mid-1800s before a better adapted farmed fish strain managed to escape into the wild, leading to a massive increase in carp numbers.

Because the adapted carp breed so extensively, they take up space and resources that would otherwise belong to native fish species, which have had trouble dealing with the influx of carp. The Murray-Darling Basin is particularly hard hit, with researchers estimating that up to 90-percent of its fish biomass are composed of carp.

Carp is a pest fish in many places around the world, and while they're good fun for sport fishing, they're unfortunately not very suitable for eating — many people describe them as tasting like mud — meaning they're often tossed back to live a longer life when captured by fishermen. According to Joyce, these carp cost the Australian fishing industry $500m AUD yearly.

The government plans to release cyprinid herpesvirus into the water in 2018.