The WSN Restoring Our Waterways

Carp Report

Overview - Carp Removal Program 2012 – 2015
Over the past four years the Wangaratta Sustainability Network’s (WSN) ‘Restoring Our Waterways’ group
has been working to remove Common Carp, Cyprinus carpio from waterways in and around Wangaratta.
Beginning in 2011, Year 9 students from Wangaratta High School’s Community Learning Challenge (CLC)
have fished for and removed carp from local waterways for several days each semester. Progressively
students from Cathedral College and Galen Catholic College also became involved.
In 2012 a Carp Muster was organised and members of the community came together and removed 71
more carp from One and Three Mile Creeks. This had a strong educational component as well being a fun
event with prizes and a community BBQ lunch. The ‘muster’ was repeated in 2013 and 2014, resulting in
133 more Carp removed from the Ovens River system. In 2014, a ‘Community for Nature’ Government
Grant enabled the Wangaratta Sustainability Network to purchase 2 portable Carp traps and these are
being trialled in association with a project at Wimmera Catchment
Management Authority. We are gaining experience in the best way to use
these traps and thus far 68 Carp have been removed from local waterways.
All the Carp removed by these activities were collected and transported to
Nutrisoil (a fertiliser company in Baranduda) so the carp could be recycled
and not go to waste.
In 2013, while observing Research Scientist Dr Scott Raymond from the
Arthur Rylah Institute (part of DELWP), using electrofishing for the annual
Ovens River Native Fish survey, we proposed the formation of a cooperative relationship so that carp that were caught and surveyed were not
returned to the river. As a result in the 2014 survey 208 large carp were
removed by the combined efforts of scientists and WSN volunteers.
Having seen the potential of electrofishing, late in 2014 WSN applied for a
Communities for Nature Grant with the support of DELWP, NECMA, the
Rural City of Wangaratta’s Environment Department. Having received the grant, Dr Scott Raymond and his
team then returned to the Ovens River in January 2015 to specifically target the removal of carp and again
were supported by volunteers of WSN. In a two week period, 1,211 Carp weighing a total of 4,160 kg, were
removed and transported to Nutrisoil. Detailed records were kept of the carp numbers and locations and
progressively our knowledge was increasing of where the carp schooled in larger numbers along the river.
Figure 1 Portable Carp trap

Later this year WSN will again be applying for a grant to use
the services of Scott Raymond and his team in 2016 to again
remove carp and also evaluate the success of our carp removal
programs and the impact on our native fish populations. Our
objective is to remove as many as possible of this very invasive
species from the Ovens and King Rivers to enable a
management program to be developed and continued into the
future, with a view to increase the number the indigenous fish
species.

Electro fishing unit operating in the Ovens River.

The WSN Restoring Our Waterways Carp Report

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In addition to these activities, in 2014 Wangaratta Sustainability Network initiated a project with Galen
Catholic College to restore and improve the Billabong area next to the Ovens River. This successful project
will be the subject of a separate report but also included a trial of the Carp Trap. Understanding the role
that billabongs play in harbouring carp following a flood is an important aspect to controlling carp.

Dr Scott Raymond Report
Changes in abundance of 2 large-bodied native fish species captured within the Ovens River
Demonstration Reach (ORDR) from 2008 to 2015.
These charts show:
1. That Murray cod abundance has significantly increased over the
study (particularly following rehabilitation works)
2. That Trout cod abundance has dramatically increased, and
3. That Common carp numbers were consistently very high prior to
their removal and that rehabilitation works have had a significant
negative impact on the Common carp population within the ORDR.

Recording a tagged native fish.

Over the next few years we should be able to pick up changes in the carp population and the relative
impact of their removal on cod species within the reach. A total of 280 carp were removed from the ORDR
and a grand total of 471 Carp, representing 1,660kg, was removed from the ORDR and surrounding areas.
I am sure you will agree that this is a magnificent result and that everyone involved should be very proud of
their efforts to improve the health of the river and the native fish within it.
I would particularly like to thank Kelvin Berry for all of his help and support over the planning and monitoring
stages of the program. He was instrumental in all aspects of the program and was very efficient in retrieving
the carp from us so we could get as much work done as possible. Through Kelvin's dedication and
willingness to work in with us we were able to make important links with a number of additional research
projects including;
the ORDR MDBA river rehabilitation project
VEFMAP state wide mapping and monitoring program
Ovens River Macquarie perch translocation program
the Tarrawingee Fish hotels monitoring program, and the
DPI Snobs Creek Trout cod breeding program

Retrieving a carp during
electro fishing.

The WSN Restoring Our Waterways Carp Report

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Numbers of large-bodied native and introduced fish species within the Ovens River Demonstration
Reach (2008-2015).
Note: Murray cod and Trout cod abundances have steadily increased over the past 5 years (since
rehabilitation works began) while Common carp abundance has remained relatively high during the past 5
years.

Murray cod
350

Golden perch

300

5
250

4
200

3

150

100

2

50

1

0
2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

0
2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Trout cod
120

Macquarie perch
100

5

80

4

60

3

40

2
1

20

0

0
2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2008

2015

2009

Common carp

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

River blackfish

300
100

250
80

200
60

150
40

100

50

20

0
2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

0
2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

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Report by Kelvin Berry (WSN) on the 2015 Carp Removal Programs.
The initiative to apply for a Communities For Nature Grant to use a boat electro fishing unit came
about from discussions between WSN members, NECMA Andrew Briggs and DELWP freshwater
ecologist, Dr. Scott Raymond (ARI) during the Ovens River Demonstration Reach program. Our
ideas had full backing from all associated groups and Trevor Danger (Ovens Landcare facilitator)
assisted in preparing the grant application. The Upper Ovens Carp Removal program was
designed and implemented using strategies and techniques developed through extensive onground investigations and previous electro fishing programs.
The flexibility of WSN volunteers and the ARI Electro fishing team allowed both parties to achieve
a very effective and amicable working relationship, facilitating the removal of carp and collecting
important data on native fish populations for future impact assessment.
Carp numbers varied greatly between sites. Our findings showed;
1. No small carp (<350mm) were sampled
2. Large breeding carp were sampled at all sites (usually in
schools numbering between 5 and 25 individuals)
3. The prevailing seasonal conditions and recent floods affect
where carp go for breeding purposes
4. Murray cod and trout cod in good numbers in sampled sites

A sample of breeding Carp caught
during the program.

After the completion of the carp removal program, reports from anglers and land owners noted that
the clarity of water near Tea Garden Creek above Pioneer Bridges and at the junction of the
Ovens and King Rivers has become clearer. Also, the vegetation growing near the bridge at
Tarrawingee has started to come back. Water clarity and re-vegetation will improve in time in other
areas where Carp have been removed.
A total of 16 days electro fishing occurred and careful records were kept assisted by photographic
evidence and location maps (from Andrew Briggs - NECMA) for future reference.
On completion of the program: all requirements of the funding grant were met plus there were
additional benefits from three ARI research programs.
Items for consideration in the next program. (if funds are available).
1. Areas not targeted because of the limited time available and poor river access.
2. The seasonal condition existing prior to the event (flooding and wet weather)
It was noted that places where large numbers of carp were previously removed often had much
higher numbers of native fish. Improved water clarity will also assist native fish in observing their
prey. One component that is missing from our data relates to the population and movement of
carp within diversion channels, wetlands and nearby farm dams. It is extremely important to
determine if carp within these off-stream locations are breeding. This data will inform our decisions
in the future management of the species within this system. Other considerations for the future to
monitor carp movement include Fish Ways and tracking stations. The placement of carp screens
and traps will also assist in controlling carp numbers.

The WSN Restoring Our Waterways Carp Report

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WSN Electrofishing Carp removal results (3 programs).
Ovens River Demonstration Reach program.

Combined sites Carp removed, qty & length.

Qty
60
50

Total number of
carp caught 473

40
30
20
10
0

32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84

Length cm
Table 2 Electrofishing results. Carp length and quantiy removed during the ORDR program from all sites.

Qty

Number of Carp removed from each site

70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

Site location
Table 3 Electro fishing results. Number of Carp remove from the Ovens & King Rivers at each site during
the ORDRCR program.

The WSN Restoring Our Waterways Carp Report

Streamers program results

Length cm
Table 4. Electrofishing results. Carp length and quantiy removed during theStreamer program from all
sites.

Site Locations
Table 5. Electro fishing results. Numbers of Carp remove from each site during the Streamers program.

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The WSN Restoring Our Waterways Carp Report

VEFMAP program results

Length cm

Table 6. Electrofishing results. Carp length and quantiy removed during the VEFMAP program from all sites.

Qty
Qty

Site Locations

Table 7. Electro fishing results. Numbers of Carp remove during the VEFMAP program.

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Thanks to
The success of this work bears testament to the importance of government departments, professionals and
scientists working in close collaboration with the local community. I would like to thank Arthur Rylah
Institute team, Dr Scott Raymond, Graeme Hackett and Justin O’Mahony for their professional advice and
commitment to this shared project.
Special thanks go to the landholders adjacent to the Ovens River for access to their property and also to
Andrew Briggs from NECMA for ongoing advice and support. The Wangaratta Urban Landcare Group have
also been great partners with WSN in their complimentary work at Kaluna Park and Northern Beaches.
This has been important work for Wangaratta Sustainability Network and it has attracted new members with
particular interests in the local rivers and fishing. I would like to recognise the voluntary contributions of
many WSN members in the recent work but in particular Kelvin Berry, Diane Farmer, Gill Baker, Troy Berry,
Gerard O’Brien and Geoff Gourley, Fantastic practical support has also come from Gayle South of Ovens
Landcare Network.
WSN members look forward to participating in “The Inaugural North East Victoria Carp Conference 2015”,
to be held at the Wodonga Campus of La Trobe University on 21 July 2015.
On going information regarding Carp removal and WSN membership is on the website.
www.wangarattasustainability.org

Tony Lane
Chair
Wangaratta Sustainability Network
26 June 2015