NSW Fisheries officer Matt Barwick has had a life-long love of fishing and an intense dislike of European Carp.
“I set my sights on what I wanted to do for a career at a very early age. I was five years old, in fact. I was on a fishing trip with my dad and we were on the bank of the Murray. All I wanted to do was catch my first Murray cod. I was sitting on a bank under a big old red gum and wondered why the water was so muddy. I thought maybe our rivers had always been that way, but at the time I didn’t know why.
“Later that afternoon my rod was buckling and I felt the weight and tail beat of a big fish. And I remember shouting “It’s a cod!” and my family came running down to the rivers edge to witness the tussle. After some time the big fish came to the surface and rolled in the muddy water, flashing golden. I felt disgusted and embarrassed. It wasn’t a cod at all, it was a rotten carp!
Matt’s career began as a fisheries research technician, sampling fish communities throughout New South Wales to investigate different aspects of their biology and ecology.
European Carp first took hold of Australia’s rivers in the 1960s and today they are a problem in every state and territory except the NT. In some rivers 90 percent or more of all fish are carp.
They force out native fish because they breed so fast and the breeding season is long. A 13kg carp will lay three million eggs in a normal year – double that some years. They pollute rivers because they suck up mud and spit it out when they forage for food.
Scientists are now looking at introducing a lethal a herpes virus that has already decimated koi carp in Europe. CSIRO lab tests show it to be highly promising and the Federal Government recently committed $15 million to take it further.
Matt now heads the team charged with consulting with communities, devising an action plan and getting necessary legislative approvals. They also have to come up plan to clean up millions of dead carp to protect water quality.
It’s a big job keeping Matt very busy, but he still tries to make time for fishing and camping.
Matt Barwick’s Top 5
1) The Murray River
2) The Carr Boyd Ranges in the Kimberley, WA
3) Kosciusko National Park NSW
4) Gove NT
5) Tasmanian High Country.
For the full article, see Issue 22 of ROAM