'Confronting': Fishers target carp as numbers explode
Hundreds of anglers will take to the water in the hope of hooking the invasive carp as numbers explode across Australian waterways.
Some 700 people will cast a line during the Narrabri carp muster in north western NSW, which has been held for 15 years.
Jamie Charlton from the Narrabri Amateur Fishing Club said those taking part were doing a public service.
"Carp are a pest towards the native species, so the cod, the yellowbelly and the catfish, they get in and eat all their eggs and just make the water pretty much disgusting," he told AAP.
"With the river being in flood last year, I'd expect upwards of 1000 carp to be brought in over the weekend."
The state government has urged the commonwealth to set a date to release a herpes virus to help control carp populations.
"The sheer number of carp we have seen out west is unbelievable and confronting," NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said.
"The massive downpours in the past few years have created the perfect breeding ground for this pest, which poses a significant risk to our native fish, our water quality and our habitats."
Deniliquin farmer Louise Burge said carp numbers were out of control.
"I have seen first hand the major population increase with carp with the three floods in the Murray and Edward river systems," she said.
"People need to really see what has happened in order to understand the urgency of the issue."
The national carp control plan released last year identified the potential for the herpes virus to be used as a biological control agent but recommended further research be undertaken.
"We want to see these final steps taken, as well as the development of an implementation plan, so that the virus can be rolled out as soon as possible," Mr Saunders said.
Any release of the carp virus could be several years off as states need to give legal approval.
Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said the safety of the herpes virus still needed to be assessed.
"We're conscious there are different views in the community about, for instance, whether we should be releasing diseases into water," Senator Watt said.
"There are obviously advocates of that approach as a way of controlling carp, but there is still some scientific work to be done to be able to assure people that it is safe to do so.
"It does seem from the scientific evidence we've received so far that it can make a difference but it's not a total solution."
The Queensland, South Australian and Victorian governments said more research was needed on what impact the virus had on other fish.
The federal government is working with the states on carp control plans before agreeing on the next steps.