Marine pests can have a serious effect on our oceans and waterways.
They are easily spread by contaminated fishing or diving gear. They can overwhelm local habitats and fish. If marine pests get into the waters where you fish or dive, they may:
- create physical hazards (such as large groups of oysters)
- damage your gear
- limit access or lead to closure of the area
- prey on or compete with local fish, depleting their numbers
- risk human health, such as algal toxins in shellfish products.
Keep your gear clean and free from pests. Learn how to identify marine pests. Report anything you find.
Find out how to help protect Australian waters from pests and diseases. Watch the video.
Transcript - Biosecurity Basics - Harvest and post-harvest (docx 21KB)
Keep it clean
Keep marine pests out of your area.
Anything you submerge in water can spread marine pests. This includes scuba gear, nets, fishing lines, cages, ropes, anchors and vessels or other submersibles.
Protect your fishing grounds:
- check local requirements with your state or territory authority
- follow our advice to reduce marine pest risks.
Avoid any action that could spread pests to a new location.
Marine organisms that attach and grow on submerged surfaces.
Biofouling is one of the most common ways that marine pests spread. They can attach in large quantities on vessels and equipment and move long distances. They will then spread to the next location you use your equipment or vessel.
Biofouling increases the longer a vessel or structure is submerged or when antifouling paint is not regularly applied.
Keep your diving gear and submersible equipment free of biofouling. Look for pests and unusual growth.
- Check your gear after each use.
- Clean with fresh water and dry it before you go to a new location.
Remove anything you find. Dispose of it on land.
Keep your bait and catch local.
Make sure your gear is free of biofouling. Look for pests or unusual growth.
- Clean and dry lines and nets regularly. Do this before transfer to another boat or location.
- Return by-catch to the sea as close as possible to where you caught it.
- Source your bait from local suppliers. Never use seafood sold for human consumption as bait. Reduce the risk of introducing exotic pests and diseases.
Remove anything you find on your gear. Dispose of it on land if you are cleaning in port.
Vessels moving between locations can spread marine pests.
Check, treat and clean vessels regularly. Include hard to reach areas.
- Apply antifouling coatings to vessels. Read our antifouling guidelines.
- Inspect and clean vessels carefully. Read our advice on managing vessel risks.
- Meet Australian ballast water requirements, if applicable.
Know your area
Keep a lookout in your area.
Be informed. Look for anything unusual. Help stop the spread of marine pests.
States and territories are responsible for managing marine pest risks in their area.
You must meet requirements set by your relevant state or territory authority:
- New South Wales — Department of Primary Industries
- Northern Territory — Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries
- Queensland — Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- South Australia — Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA
- Tasmania — Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
- Victoria — Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
- Western Australia — Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
See something unusual? Report it. Even if you’re not sure.
If you see something you think is a pest:
- note the exact location (screenshot your map app or enable photo geotagging on your phone)
- take a photo (use something for size reference, like a coin or note)
- contact your state or territory authority.
Marine pests and how to identify them.
Antifouling and in-water cleaning guidelines.
Ballast water management requirements.