Carp and water for the environment

Carp are an invasive, widespread pest in the Murray–Darling Basin. They contribute to environmental degradation in the Basin and impact native fish species.

Using water for the environment, we're working to manage carp and build the resilience of native fish populations.

Carp in the Murray–Darling Basin

Since the 1960s, carp have affected native fish species, biodiversity and aquatic vegetation. They reduce water quality, damage riverbanks and contribute to algae blooms.

Carp are adaptable and populations can increase quickly. They account for up to 90% of fish biomass in some areas of the Basin.

Managing the impact of carp

To combat the carp problem, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is leading the National Carp Control Plan (NCCP). This long-term biological control plan aims to reduce the impact of carp on waterways. Under the plan, the Australian, state and territory governments have agreed to progress the next steps of the plan, which is a further research phase.

In the meantime, other activities are being implemented to support carp management. For example, installing carp exclusions screens at many wetlands across the Basin.

Carp and environmental water

Environmental flows aim to benefit native species over carp.

Research shows carp populations benefit more from natural flooding events than they do from small, targeted environmental flows.

The right amount of water at the right location and time improves conditions for native fish. Unlike carp, native fish have specific seasonal flow requirements for breeding and feeding.

Our water management planning is a considered process and includes a risk assessment. If the benefits to carp outweigh the benefits to native species, we do not deliver water.

While carp can take advantage of environmental flows, it's important to improve conditions that favour native species. This includes improving breeding conditions and feeding opportunities that native fish rely on.

Benefiting native fish populations

Native fish are recovering in response to the delivery of water for the environment. This provides greater competition for carp in rivers and wetlands.

We are also using water for the environment to improve native ecosystem resilience. This promotes diverse and healthy plants, fish, waterbirds and other animals.