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Fishy business at Kambah pool as scientists look for stunning carp

Steven Trask

Published: April 12 2018 - 4:35PM

Canberra ecologists are stunning carp at the Kambah Pools with shocking results.

This week, as part of the National Carp Control Plan, ACT government scientists have been stunning and tagging carp in the Murrumbidgee River to get an idea of their population size.

Ecologist Matt Beitzel said the work would help to plan future carp control measures.

“We are doing this for two reasons,” he said.

“One, to get an idea of how many fish are in the pool as a benchmark.

“The other reason we are doing it is that we have a GPS on-board the boat and we can associate carp numbers with the habitat.”

To stun the carp, ecologists from the ACT environment directorate used a small boat with electrified poles hanging from the front.

The poles produced about 500 volts, which would stun nearby carp just long enough for them to be tagged and released.

Fittingly, the boat had been named Frank after the late guitarist and composer Frank Zappa.

“It’s important to know how many carp are in the system, because that might determine how a virus works as a control,” Mr Beitzel said.

“It can also help to plan for other clean-up efforts.”

Carp, considered a major pest in Australian waterways, were introduced about 100 years ago and are one of the most abundant fish in the Murray-Darling basin.

More than five tonnes of carp were removed from Canberra ponds during a culling initiative last year.

“We’ve been at this for seven days and we’ve tagged 90 carp,” Mr Beitzel said.

“We estimate there is somewhere between 200 and 300 carp in the pool.

“We’ve also come across a number of Murray cod as well, and we’ve tagged about 35 of those.”

Hardly given credit as an intelligent species, Mr Beitzel said the carp had cottoned-on quickly to their plan.

“They have been getting harder to catch because they seem to be catching on now.

“We gave them a break on Wednesday and came back today. They are getting pretty canny.”

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