Surveillance is essential to stopping the spread of marine pests in Australia.

We collect data on the presence and abundance of marine pests:

  • in the natural environment
  • on infrastructure
  • on vessels.

Learn how you can help keep an eye out for marine pests. Watch the video.

Transcript - Biosecurity Basics - Shared Responsibility (docx 56KB)


The Marine Pest Sectoral Committee has developed the National Marine Pest Surveillance Strategy to coordinate Australia’s surveillance activities. The surveillance strategy outlines nationally agreed priority requirements for enhancing surveillance of marine pests in Australia. The implementation period for the Surveillance Strategy is 2021-2026.

The Marine Pest Sectoral Committee has also developed the National Marine Pest Surveillance Work Plan to guide implementation of the Surveillance Strategy.


Marine environments can pose challenges for surveillance. This includes:

  • cost and limitations of traditional underwater surveillance methods
  • inaccessible and hazardous conditions
  • visibility and identification of some marine pest species.

We are working to improve the methods available. We encourage users of marine environments to help. Everyone can play a part in Australia’s marine biosecurity.

Passive surveillance

People who work or interact with the marine environment can keep an eye out for marine pests.

Australia’s coastline is enormous. We rely on the public to keep watch and help protect our marine environment.

Report marine pests. Even if you’re not sure.

Read more about:

Molecular detection

Detecting the DNA of target marine pests in the environment (eDNA) using:

  • reproductive and waste material
  • samples collected by alternative means, such as settlement arrays.

Molecular surveillance can:

  • significantly reduce the cost of marine pest surveillance
  • improve detection sensitivity.

Work is needed to validate molecular methods.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is funding projects to:

  • validate molecular detection methods
  • build molecular detection capacity in Australia.

Read the Guidelines for development and validation of assays for marine pests. These can help researchers improve molecular detection methods for marine pest surveillance.

View the Compendium of introduced marine pest molecular studies relevant to Australia to learn more about the range of published molecular diagnostic tools that are currently available to support marine biosecurity research and surveillance in Australia.

Visual surveillance

SCUBA divers perform traditional underwater visual surveillance. Diving activities can be expensive and impractical in some locations, particularly due to safety concerns.

We are helping to develop other visual surveillance methods. This includes using Remotely Operated underwater Vehicles (ROVs). ROVs are underwater vehicles operated by a pilot on the surface.

Benefits of ROVs:

  • can capture underwater images in areas that may not be safe or practical for divers
  • offer a cheaper and safer alternative for visual surveillance.

Read the report: Review and Enhancement of Remotely Operated Vehicles for Marine Pest Surveillance to learn more about ROVs and how they can be used to improve surveillance for marine pests.


Guidance on marine pest surveillance methods: