Project to eradicate gambusia

Researchers John Duggin and Dr Jawahar Patil check a net for gambusia yesterday. Picture: NEIL RICHARDSON

Researchers John Duggin and Dr Jawahar Patil check a net for gambusia yesterday. Picture: NEIL RICHARDSON

THE Tamar River's answer to the cane toad has a new foe to face.

The University of Tasmania has secured $476,000 in funds to to possibly eradicate the Eastern mosquitofish, a pest fish contained to one area of the Tamar River near Launceston.

Also known as gambusia, the fish is found worldwide, breeds prolifically and causes extensive damage to native aquatic fauna.

Australian Maritime College National Centre for Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability lecturer and researcher Jawahar Patil explained the four-year project would employ genetic engineering in the battle against the introduced species.

By feeding hormones to the fish at the right stage in their development, Dr Patil and his colleagues will attempt to develop a gambusia-specific Trojan Y chromosome, which will make female fish produce mainly male eggs.

It is hoped the world-first research will lead to population extinction.

Tamar Island Wetlands Reserve volunteer John Duggin said previous attempts to eradicate the species had been physical.

He said traps had worked well for about three years, but ongoing maintenance requirements had made them unworkable.

The study will start in about three years following years of research.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop