CANBERRA, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Australian scientists on Friday hit back at claims that a controversial plan to eradicate the invasive common carp from local waterways will be an ecological disaster.
Researchers in the United Kingdom (UK) this week expressed concerns that introducing a herpes virus into the Murray-Darling river system would have "serious ecological, environmental, and economic ramifications," but Australian experts said there is no cause for concern.
Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) undertook seven years' studies and found introducing a specific strain of the herpes virus would kill the invasive carp while ensuring native fish, birds and other aquatic species would not be harmed.
On Friday, Matt Barwick, coordinator of the National Carp Control Plan, told Guardian Australia the virus had been successfully used in many other countries and had not affected the local species.
"This virus is now found in almost every river and lake system in Japan, and in another 32 countries," Barwick said.
"The only species that this virus has been detected to cause disease in is the common carp. In these countries they are sharing a waterway with other species of koi, very closely related to the common carp, and those other species haven't contracted the virus."
Meanwhile La Trobe University senior ecology lecturer Dr. Susan Lawler said the UK-based researchers "don't understand the Australian perspective."
"The reason they are terrified of it going wrong is because they don't understand how terrified we are that all the native fish in Australia are going to die off because of carp. There's an ecological disaster going on right now," she said.
The European - or common - carp was introduced into Australia by settlers in the 1800s and now makes up around 90 percent of all fish in local river systems. They have been known to kill native fish, disrupt the local ecosystem and breed uncontrollably.