Recreation and community

Help stop the spread of marine pests in Australia. There are simple things you can do to protect the oceans you love to use.

Be aware of the risks. Your boat, yacht, gear, bait or aquarium fish and plants can spread pests and diseases. Know what you can do to reduce those risks.

You know your area. Keep a lookout. Report anything unusual.

How does Australia’s biosecurity system work? Watch the video to learn.

Transcript - Biosecurity Basics (docx 22KB)

Boats, yachts and gear

Biofouling on a vessel hull. Credit: Biosecurity NZ
Biofouling on a vessel hull. Credit: Biosecurity NZ

Marine pests can spread by hitching a ride with your boat and equipment.

They can attach to vessel hulls, anchor chains, buoys, nets, lifejackets and fishing or diving gear. This is known as biofouling. You can help stop biofouling with regular boat and gear maintenance.

Ballast water can also transport marine pests. If your boat or yacht uses ballast water, you must meet Ballast Water Management Requirements.



Protect your boat or yacht.

  • Check it regularly. Look in hard to reach areas, like water intake pipes and around the rudder.
  • Maintain a protective anti-fouling coating if you keep your boat in the water.

Before you use your boat or gear in a new location, check local requirements with the relevant state or territory authority. They manage marine pest risks in their area.

Check, clean and dry

Keep your boat and gear clean and dry. Do this after every use. Watch the video below on how.

Video credit: Parks Victoria

Trailered boats

If you are removing your boat from the water:

  • drain your boat, trailer and gear on land
  • rinse everything with fresh water and let it dry
  • remove all plants and animals from your boat and gear.
Biofouling prone areas of a trailered boat: deck fittings; anchor well and anchor; hull surface; water inlets and outlets; sonor tubes, echosounder booths and transducers; burley bucket; propeller; trailer; hull surface.
Areas on a trailered boat where pests can gather.

Moored boats

Check and clean your boat or yacht. Do this before you move to a new location.

Move your boat or yacht onto a slipway or dry-dock between trips. This will help you remove hitchhiking pests and repair anti-fouling coating.

Niche areas that don’t affect vessel speed, such as sea-chests, are often not cleaned. They can have high levels of biofouling.

Biofouling prone areas of a moored boat: deck fittings; anchor well and anchor; cooling pipes; sewage and bilge tanks; water inlets and outlets; rudders and marlin board; propeller and shaft; keel; hull surface.
Niche areas on a yacht where pests can gather.

Find a local marina. Check with them if you can dry-dock or slipway clean your boat.

You can also arrange to have your boat or yacht cleaned in the water. This should be done regularly.

Read more about managing biofouling on your vessel.


Put it in a bin, not in the water.

This includes:

  • bait
  • fishing lines
  • plants or animals
  • anything else you removed from your boat or gear.


Fish and other aquatic animals make great pets but if they get into waterways they can become serious pests and spread disease. Some aquarium plants are not native to Australia. They may compete with native species if released.

Don’t let your pet become a pest.

Always check requirements with your state or territory authority.


Check what you can import.

You can only import permitted species from approved countries.

You must:

  • have a valid import permit issued by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
  • comply with all import conditions.

Find out more about importing live fish.


Dispose of fish properly.

Gravel and water may contain fish and snail eggs, larvae, plants or diseases. Dead fish, aquarium rocks and plants can carry diseases that can harm native marine species.

  • Don’t release aquarium fish into waterways, or use them as bait.
  • Return unwanted healthy fish, plants and rocks to your local aquarium shop.
  • Dispose of dead fish and aquarium material to landfill. Do not throw any aquarium material into water ways or flush down the toilet.

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 boat or yacht.

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.



Get involved

Join our Marine Biosecurity Australia network.

Find out what is happening near you.

National resources

New South Wales

Northern Territory


South Australia


Western Australia