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.


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 coast line 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 and Water Resources 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.

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 drones 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.


Guidance on marine pest surveillance methods:

These documents will soon be replaced by the National Marine Pest Surveillance Strategy.


We are developing a national strategy for marine pest surveillance and diagnostics.

This will:

  • establish cost-effective methods
  • guide marine pest surveillance across government and industry and the community.