Marine pests often hitchhike on vessels. As trade and international shipping increases, so can the spread of marine pests. They can have a serious effect on your vessel and the oceans you use.

If marine pests attach to your vessel, they may:

  • block water intake pipes
  • create vessel drag and reduce fuel efficiency and performance
  • increase down time, cleaning and treatment costs
  • shorten the life of your boat and gear.

You may also be subject to regulatory action (such as being turned away from a port). We are developing new biofouling regulations right now. We will consult with stakeholders in early 2019.

Keep it clean and free from pests. Train crew to identify marine pests. Report anything you find.

Keep it clean

Keep marine pests off your vessel.

Anything you submerge in water or that takes in sea water can spread marine pests. This includes anchors, ropes, deck areas, the vessel hull and internal seawater systems.

Protect your vessel and Australia’s waterways:

Avoid any action that could spread pests to a new location.


Organisms and plant material can build up on submerged surfaces.

This is biofouling. It is one of the most common ways marine pests spread. They can attach in large quantities. They will then spread to the next location you use your equipment or vessel.

Biofouling increases the longer a vessel or structure stays submerged.


Manage biofouling

Keep your vessel free from biofouling. Look out for pests or growth.

  • Ensure your vessel has an appropriate in-service anti-fouling coating.
  • Clean your vessel between locations — in a drydock or slipway, or in the water (if allowed by the relevant authority).
  • Check niche areas and flush internal seawater systems.
  • Inspect and clean all equipment and gear that may get wet.

National biofouling management guidelines:

Anti-fouling and in-water cleaning

Apply anti-fouling coatings to your vessel. Make sure you:

  • choose the right coating for your vessel profile
  • maintain your anti-fouling coating properly
  • record details of the coating you have applied.

This will reduce the risk of marine pests attaching to your vessel.

In-water cleaning must only be undertaken when removal of biofouling:

  • does not harm the anti-fouling coating
  • presents an acceptable biosecurity or contaminant risk as determined by the local authority.

Check advice in our anti-fouling and in-water cleaning guidelines.

Know your area

Keep a lookout in your area.

Be informed. Look for anything unusual. Help stop the spread of marine pests.

Local requirements

States and territories are responsible for managing marine pest risks in their area. This includes locations where you can clean your vessel.

You must meet requirements set by your relevant state or territory authority:


Report it

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.