Recognition for carp virus researcher

KenMcColl_CSIROIn recognition for his carp biocontrol research that resulted in the establishment of a National Carp Control Plan, the 2016 Professor Dave Choquenot Science Award for Excellence in Pest Animal Research has been awarded to Ken McColl, a Senior Research Veterinarian at CSIRO’s Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong.

Initially introduced into Australia in 1859, carp have been a serious invasive pest in the Murray-Darling Basin since the 1960s, following the accidental release of a strain adapted for fish farming. Because of their ability to rapidly multiply carp are known as ‘river rabbits’, and researchers consider the fish have contributed significantly to the ecological damage and degradation of Australia’s rivers.

Andreas Glanznig, CEO of Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre said Dr McColl’s rigorous scientific observations over the past eight years had confirmed the Cyprinid herpesvirus-3 was an effective carp management option that had shown no adverse effects on other non-target species.

“We’re confident the carp herpesvirus only kills carp and doesn’t infect, and therefore cannot affect, a wide range of non-target animals in Australia. Dr McColl’s findings have resulted in the publication of eight peer-reviewed scientific articles and one book chapter, making him one of the global leaders and experts on this research topic,” he said.

The newly appointed NCCP coordinator, Matt Barwick said there had been an ‘overwhelmingly positive response’ to the idea rivers could one day be clean again.

“The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation responsible for delivering the National Carp Control Plan, is now going to move this research forward to understand further how the carp herpesvirus will work in our waterways,” he said. In receiving the award McColl said that as a zoologist he was honoured to make an environmental difference to Australia’s river systems, while as a veterinarian he was pleased there was no evidence the virus would affect other animals.

Anne Layton-Bennett