MarinePestPlan 2018-2023

​​​Department of Agriculture, 2018

Australia’s national strategic plan for marine pest biosecurity. The plan:

  • outlines our national priorities
  • sets our strategic direction for investment over the next 5 years.

There are five objectives in the plan:

  1. Minimise the risk of marine pest introductions, establishment and spread
  2. Strengthen the national marine pest surveillance system
  3. Australia’s preparedness and response capability for marine pest introductions
  4. Support marine pest biosecurity research and development
  5. Engage stakeholders to better manage marine pest biosecurity

Each objective is supported by activities that address specific marine biosecurity issues.

Who is responsible

MarinePestPlan 2018–2023 is a joint initiative of key marine pest biosecurity stakeholders.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources coordinates the activities under the plan.

These activities are endorsed by:

  • National Biosecurity Committee (NBC)
  • Marine Pest Sectoral Committee (MPSC).

The plan is for use by government, maritime industries, non-government organisations and researchers.


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Our activities to achieve the 5 objectives in the plan. For more information on these activities, contact us.

As at October 2018. We will update progress every 6 months.

Minimise the risk of marine pest introductions, establishment and spread (Objective 1)

Activity 1.1

Implement nationally-consistent domestic ballast water regulations under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Summary: Amendments to the ballast water provisions in the Biosecurity Act 2015 came into effect on 8 September 2017. The amendments enabled Australia to ratify and implement the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the Convention) and introduce requirements for ships moving between Australian ports. The requirements for the Convention have now been fully implemented.

Status: Completed

Activity 1.2

Ensure the use of ballast water management systems in Australian waters meets accepted environmental standards.

Summary: The department has identified a number of experts and consults these experts on all International Maritime Organisation (IMO) reports for ballast water management systems (BWMS) final approval. These comments contribute to the Australian position at IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee meetings. Through this process, the Australian Government has supported the joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) Ballast Water Working Group recommendations in general, and specifically that recommended revisions to the Procedure (G9) guidelines should be implemented and made mandatory.

DAWR has implemented two projects to educate on the risks associated with the discharge of disinfection by-products from BWMS into Australian ports:

  • Treated ballast water and its impact on port water quality
  • Sampling and testing principles for disinfection by-products from BWMS.

Status: Commenced

Activity 1.3

Investigate regulatory options to manage biosecurity risks associated with biofouling on vessels.

Summary: DAWR is developing regulatory measures that:

  • address unacceptable biofouling related biosecurity risk from vessels arriving in Australian territory
  • are aligned with the direction set by the IMO.

DAWR is developing a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) that will present options for biofouling management. The RIS will include an assessment of the potential benefits and likely cost impact of each option under consideration.

Status: Commenced

Activity 1.4

Review the National Biofouling Management Guidelines for marine sectors and update as required.

Summary: The review will commence in early 2019. DAWR is developing national biofouling management requirements, which are anticipated to be consulted on during early 2019. When finalised, the content of the six guidelines and the national policy will be consistent.

Status: Not commenced

Activity 1.5

Investigate the benefits of an intelligence-gathering framework to monitor marine pest risk pathways and expand the International Biosecurity Intelligence System as appropriate.

Summary: DAWR has developed a marine biosecurity theme for the International Biosecurity Intelligence System (IBIS) to improve how we gather and share information.

IBIS is an open-source automated information gathering and analysis tool that DAWR uses to gather biosecurity intelligence available online. An algorithm is being tested to improve automated sorting of articles found by IBIS.

Status: Commenced

Strengthen the national marine pest surveillance system (Objective 2)

Activity 2.1

Develop a national marine pest surveillance strategy.

Summary: A workshop to determine direction of the marine pest surveillance strategy was held in September 2017. The MPSC Surveillance Strategy Task Group provided comment on the draft strategy.

The draft surveillance strategy was presented to MPSC in April 2018, however some members felt that further revision was required. Concerns were raised at the number of activities and the capacity to implement those in a five-year time-frame.

Surveillance Strategy Task Group members have been working on revising the draft surveillance strategy to make it more directly aligned with other strategies and address concerns raised. The draft surveillance strategy will contain more explanation that not all activities listed are to be completed in a set timeframe—they are to capture priorities that can be addressed when resources become available.

Some restructuring is also underway so that the strategy aligns with other surveillance strategies, identifying key priorities.


Status: Commenced

Activity 2.2

Investigate Australia’s current passive surveillance capability for marine pests and recommend possible improvements.

Summary: A market research company, Instinct and Reason, were engaged to identify marine pest observer groups relevant to Australia’s national biosecurity, and gathered on their knowledge, reporting behaviours and motivations.
The research involved a literature review, a series of qualitative interviews of key marine pest stakeholders and a survey (including a choice model) of the public.

The final report detailing the research is available on request.

Status: Completed

Activity 2.3

Promote tailored education and awareness materials to engage marine pest observer groups in passive surveillance activities.

Summary: The MPSC Passive Surveillance Education and Awareness (PSEA) Task Group was formed in 2017 to progress this activity. The PSEA Task Group Terms of Reference were endorsed by MPSC in 2018.

Status: Commenced

Activity 2.4

Develop validation guidelines for marine pest molecular detection methods.

Summary: Guidelines for development and validation of assays for marine pests are available on this website. The guidelines are based on a workshop held in 2016. It was attended by biosecurity officers and researchers with expertise in molecular biology.
The guidelines were endorsed by MPSC in 2018.

Status: Completed

Activity 2.5

Validate molecular detection methods (including sampling methodology) for selected high-priority marine pest species.

Summary: Molecular assays are being validated for six established marine pests considered in the domestic ballast water risk assessment. This assesses the risk of marine pest translocation through uptake and discharge of ballast water between Australian ports.

Molecular assays are being validated for seven exotic marine pest species that are considered high risk if they were to become established in Australia. The final report is due in November 2018 with peer-reviewed papers to be submitted to appropriate journals by July 2019.

Status: Commenced

Activity 2.6

Audit, maintain and share a database of marine pest identification capability.

Summary: An agreed format to collect data and relevant information for marine pest identification was circulated to MPSC members and agreed to.

Preliminary audits of marine pest identification capability have been completed for several jurisdictions and further input is being sought from the remaining jurisdictions.

Status: Commenced

Activity 2.7

Review surveillance information management needs and ensure an appropriate information system is in place.

Summary: In 2018, MPSC commented on marine pest surveillance information needs and known content, functionality and useability gaps, suggested priority specifications and improvements for the National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (NIMPIS) and agreed to the redevelopment and update of NIMPIS.

An application development company, Spatial Intelligence, has been engaged to redevelop NIMPIS to ensure it achieves its objectives into the future, provides a valuable service and meets national marine pest information requirements.

Part of the redevelopment of NIMPIS will be an update to allow routine submission of standardised marine pest surveillance information from biosecurity managers. Surveillance submissions will be based on the endorsed marine pest surveillance national minimum data standards.

Status: Commenced

Activity 2.8

Perform an audit of marine pest surveillance activities and data sets relevant to Australia.

Summary: N/A

Status: Not commenced

Australia’s preparedness and response capability for marine pest introductions (Objective 3)

Activity 3.1

Plan and implement a national program of marine pest emergency response exercises.

Summary: Two national marine pest emergency exercises were held. Animal Health Australia was contracted to deliver the exercise program. In the first, held in Canberra, Consultative Committee on Introduced Marine Pest Emergencies (CCIMPE) members or representatives focused on improving their knowledge of CCIMPE roles and responsibilities.

The second exercise was a hypothetical response at Sydney Harbour and involved MPSC members, partners and industry representatives from the port. Both exercises received positive feedback and some recommendations for potential future exercises were included in the review of the activity.

Status: Completed

Activity 3.2

Develop a benefit–cost analysis framework to guide response efforts in the event of a nationally significant marine pest incursion.

Summary: Guidelines for a benefit-cost analysis for marine pests were completed in 2018. The guidelines include a case study to demonstrate how the costings could be worked through.

The study is published on the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA) website and the guidelines were distributed to MPSC in July 2018.

Status: Completed

Activity 3.3

Identify marine pest emergency response training needs.

Summary: This activity is on hold pending progress in other projects including strengthening passive surveillance capability and updates and improvements to Emergency Marine Pest Plan.

The exercise program report (Activity 3.1) has identified some of the needs to be addressed.

Status: Not commenced

Activity 3.4

Review the national Emergency Marine Pest Plan (EMPPlan) framework.

Summary: The structure of the Emergency Marine Pest (EMP) Plan framework was discussed by MPSC in April 2018.

Agreed actions:

  • Develop separate, specific manuals for new operational and management content as required
  • Consolidate the Rapid Response Manuals (RRMs) to cover a taxonomic group (e.g. a single manual for mussels) as well as the maintenance of a generic manual
  • Streamline RRMs so that the taxa-specific manuals do not repeat information in the generic manual
  • A single marine pest-specific control centre manual will be developed. It will incorporate both the content of the existing Biosecurity Incident Management System manual, and additional marine pest specific guidance
  • DAWR will lead the review of EMPPlan material in consultation with the Emergency Response Task Group.

Status: Completed

Activity 3.5

Plan and implement procedures to develop and update the EMPPlan rapid response manuals and related guidance materials.

Summary: In November 2017, MPSC agreed that the RRM for Mytilopsis sallei and Perna viridis should be reviewed. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries led the initial review based on their experience using the manual during the P. viridis response near Weipa in May 2017. The RRM is currently with DAWR to incorporate Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries edits as well as update biological information and Commonwealth biosecurity legislation information.

Status: Commenced

Support marine pest biosecurity research and development (Objective 4)

Activity 4.1

Periodically review the national marine pest biosecurity research and development priorities.

Summary: N/A

Status: Not commenced

Activity 4.2

Promote research coordination through the national marine pest research network.

Summary: N/A

Status: Commenced

Activity 4.3

Review the economic, environmental and social impacts of marine pests in Australia.

Summary: MPSC Marine Pest Impacts Task Group members have completed detailed reviews of the documented impacts of twelve introduced marine pest species, with all remaining reviews intended to be completed by the end of October 2018.

Status: Commenced

Activity 4.4

Conduct risk analyses of marine pest vectors and pathways, and make recommendations for improved management.

Summary: N/A

Status: Not commenced

Activity 4.5

Assess the effectiveness of current management options for biofouling in niche areas.

Summary: DAWR is using an online innovation platform to identify novel methods to treat biofouling in box-coolers of commercial ships. The winning proposals will now be considered for further development as methods to address biosecurity risks associated with biofouling in niche-areas.

Additionally, DAWR has engaged an external provider to:

  • Identify internal seawater system component niches and associated biofouling
  • Identify materials and designs that affect treatments and treatment techniques
  • Perform a desktop analysis of treatment techniques (based on the findings of the two points above).

Status: Commenced

Engage stakeholders to better manage marine pest biosecurity (Objective 5)

Activity 5.1

Identify and build a profile of marine pest biosecurity stakeholders.

Summary: DAWR has commissioned a Social Network Analysis (SNA) for Australia’s marine biosecurity network, including information and resource sharing relationships in order to support improved communication with current and potential stakeholders.
This activity addresses a recommendation of the 2015 Review of National Marine Pest Biosecurity that highlighted the need for establishing a national marine nest network.

Status: Commenced

Activity 5.2

Develop a national stakeholder engagement strategy for MarinePestPlan 2018–2023 and the Marine Pest Sectoral Committee.

Summary: In 2017 MPSC agreed to developing a joint MPSC and MarinePestPlan 2018–2023 engagement strategy that aligns with the engagement objectives of both MPSC and MarinePestPlan 2013–2023.

The MPSC National Marine Pest Biosecurity Strategy Task Group is responsible for developing the joint plan – the National Marine Pest Stakeholder Engagement Strategy (Engagement Strategy).

The Engagement Strategy was sent to MPSC for comment in September 2018.

Status: Commenced

Activity 5.3

Design a targeted national campaign to improve awareness of marine pest biosecurity risks, management actions and shared responsibilities.

Summary: The development and delivery of a national campaign relies upon the delivery of outcomes of a number of other activities in MarinePestPlan 2018–2023 including Activity 2.2, Activity 5.1 and Activity 5.2.

Status: Not commenced

Activity 5.4

Review, update and maintain the website.

Summary: The website is being reviewed and updated and is on target to be relaunched in late 2018. The project consists of three components: user research, platform update and content review.

The user research identified the website user requirements of marine pest stakeholders, along with the user-friendliness of the current website based on visual presentation of information and website navigability. The user research component is complete and a final report based on this work is available on request.

The platform update was required for the website to be compatible with contemporary software and improve usability and security. The platform update also improved the design of the website to better communicate content to users. This component of the project is complete.
The content review is required to update marine pest and biosecurity governance information. The content review also aims to improve navigability of the website (based on the findings of the user research) as well as better communication information to marine pest stakeholders through the use of simple and consistent language.

Status: Commenced

Activity 5.5

Establish an independent national marine pest network.

Summary: DAWR is investigating options to establish Marine Biosecurity Australia (MBA). MBA is intended to develop a network of partnerships and collaboration and enable Australia to better identify, assess, communicate and manage risks of marine pests.
The analysis of Australia’s marine pest biosecurity stakeholder network (Activity 5.1) will enable DAWR to ensure the development of MBA will meet the needs of Australia’s marine pest biosecurity system.

Status: Commenced