University of Adelaide research reveals that a plan to wipe out European carp populations in the Murray River could end up wreaking havoc with native fish.
Using a herpes virus to wipe out European carp plaguing the Murray River could ultimately kill off native fish as well, a researcher warns.
The plan, dubbed "Carpageddon", is slated to begin in late 2018 and will eradicate 95 per cent of the pest's population over the next 30 years.
While the virus doesn't affect other fish, University of Adelaide research shows that decomposing carp, if they're left in the water, will dissolve oxygen levels.
And this will endanger native species such as Murray cod and silver perch, as well as crustaceans.
"If we're removing oxygen from the water column, native fish will die because they have a much lower tolerance to low oxygen levels than carp," honours student Richie Walsh told AAP on Sunday.
He said native populations would start to suffer with oxygen levels of less than 4mg per litre, and that huge numbers of dead carp could bring it down to at least this level.
"It would be ironic. In trying to remove the carp we'd be potentially causing extinctions in local native fish," Mr Walsh said.
"Obviously it's a good idea to remove carp but not without trying to figure out what the side effects will be.
"We've had carp in these sorts of numbers for about 60 years.
"So there's no rush. We have time. We should do the research."