Invasive pest species are recognized as one of the important drivers of reduced global biodiversity. In Australia, the 267 invasive plant, animal and microbial species, established since European colonization in the 1770s, have been unequivocally declared the most important threat to species diversity in this country. One invasive pest, the common carp (Cyprinus carpio
), has been targeted in an integrated pest management plan that might include cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3) as a potential biocontrol agent. The species-specificity of the released virus (and of field variants that will inevitably arise) has been assessed, and the virus judged to be safe. It has also been hypothesised that, because the virulence of the CyHV-3 will likely decline following release, the virus should be used strategically: initially, the aim would be to markedly reduce numbers of carp in naive populations, and then some other, as yet uncertain, complementary broad-scale control measure would knock-down carp numbers even further. Brief results are included from recent studies on the modelling of release and spread of the virus, the ecological and social concerns associated with virus release, and the restoration benefits that might be expected following carp control. We conclude that, while further work is required (on the virus, the target species, environmental issues, and especially the identification of a suitable broad-scale complementary control measure), optimism must prevail in order to ensure an eventual solution to this important environmental problem.
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