Preventing new pests arriving in Australia

The National System aims to prevent new marine pests arriving in Australia and minimise the risk of existing pests spreading to new areas.

New prevention measures are being introduced to manage the risk from:

  • ballast water (water carried by ships to ensure stability, trim and structural integrity)
  • biofouling (organisms that attach to objects immersed in water, such as vessel hulls, ropes, anchors and other equipment)
  • aquarium trade

Ballast water management

In 2001, the Australian Government introduced mandatory ballast water management requirements for all vessels entering Australian waters. Vessels must exchange ballast water at sea in accordance with the requirements before entering Australian waters.

Victoria also has requirements for vessels entering Victorian ports.

For further information on Australia's ballast water requirements go to the Australian ballast water management page.

Under the National System, the Australian and state/territory governments are now working towards introducing ballast water management arrangements for vessels travelling between Australian ports.

This will result in Australia having a single set of ballast water management arrangements for ships entering Australian waters and for those travelling between Australian ports. These arrangements will be consistent with the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments.

Biofouling management

Managing biofouling on vessels

Marine pests may attach themselves to vessels and associated equipment as part of the normal biofouling process. To reduce the risk of inadvertently spreading  marine pests, it is very important that operators minimise the amount of biofouling that accumulates on their vessels.

Under the National System, voluntary national biofouling management guidelines have been developed for a range of marine sectors. These guidelines provide practical maintenance recommendations to help vessel operators manage the level of biofouling on their vessels.

For more information on the management of biofouling on vessels, go to the relevant industry sector pages of this site.

International vessel arrivals

All vessels entering Australian waters pose some risk to Australia's marine biosecurity.  To reduce this risk, the Australian government is investigating new biofouling management options for vessels arriving in Australian waters.

In developing the requirements, the Australian government has been, and will continue to work closely with stakeholders to ensure implementation arrangements are both practical and effective in minimising the biosecurity risk posed by biofouling.

Further information will be posted on this website as it becomes available.

State/territory biofouling requirements

Under the Western Australian Environmental Protection Act 1986 the Environmental Protection Authority makes recommendations to the Minister for Environment who then sets conditions for the management of the potential biosecurity risk presented by vessels and equipment. For further information contact the Department of Fisheries Western Australia.

The Northern Territory routinely screens vessels wishing to enter Darwin marinas. All vessels that have travelled internationally that cannot demonstrate that they have been cleaned or antifouled in Australia will be requested to undergo a hull inspection and treatment of internal seawater systems. More information on vessel inspections in Darwin

Aquarium trade

Imports of fish, other animals, plants and live rock for salt water aquariums provide a pathway for the introduction of marine pests to Australia. 

Import restrictions

There are restrictions on the the importation of live marine species into Australia. The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities maintains a list of species that are approved for live import.  This list is known as the Live Import List. Species not included on this list can not be legally imported into Australia.

Permitted species can be imported into Australia subject to permit conditions issued by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

State/territory regulations  

All states and territories have regulations in place relating to keeping, breeding and sale of aquarium species.  These vary between jusidictions.

More information on aquariums and marine pests