Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Big water barbie

Our nomadic chef Adrian Millman visits the ACT to sample a not-so-respected introduced species from the Murrumbidgee River.

Big water barbieWith justification the carp is called the "river rabbit". Like the rabbit, it is an introduced species, causes massive environmental damage and crowds out populations of native species.

But, unlike the rabbit, it is rarely considered suitable for the Australian dining table.

This a pity because hunting rabbits for food, particularly during the Depression, helped to control populations until the advent of myxomatosis and calicivirus.

While there is little consumer demand for carp, they continue to wreak havoc on river systems, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Big water barbieThey increase turbidity, feed on molluscs, crustaceans, insect larvae, plankton and seeds and carry the anchor worm that harms native fish such as the Murray cod and silver perch.

With females laying up to a million eggs a year, the carp's potential for devastation is immense.

The ACT government has launched a rehabilitation program on the section of the Murrumbidgee River that runs within its borders.

ACT experts back moves to encourage more people to eat carp and would welcome any attempt to process the fish for export.

The ACT's Urban Services Minister Brendan Smyth invited me to prepare a meal in the scenic surrounds of Pine Island on the Murrumbidgee near its junction with the Naas River, 30 km south of Canberra.

Weighed down with anti-carp propaganda and possessing a lifelong love of unspoilt bush, it was an assignment I tackled with gusto. Story end

Full story Issue 7, October-November 1999

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