National Marine Pest Surveillance Strategy

Australia’s national strategy for marine pest surveillance was endorsed by the Marine Pest Sectoral Committee in 2019. The strategy:

  • outlines our national surveillance priorities
  • sets our strategic direction for investment in surveillance over the next 5 years, 2021–2026.

There are four objectives in the strategy:

  1. To define the need, objectives and scope for surveillance.
  2. To describe the different components and types of surveillance required to meet those objectives.
  3. To outline a nationally agreed approach to marine pest surveillance.
  4. To outline stakeholder roles and responsibilities, including identification of lead agencies for surveillance and communication.

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

Of the 15 activities listed in the National Marine Pest Surveillance Strategy, one activity is complete, 13 have commenced and one has not commenced.

The National Marine Pest Surveillance Work Plan will be used to guide implementation of the Surveillance Strategy.

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Progress

Objective 1: To define the need, objectives and scope for surveillance

Activity 1.1

Develop an understanding of factors associated with incursion pathways (including vessels that may affect the likelihood of introducing of marine pests).

Status: Commenced

Summary:

Risk analyses are being undertaken to review factors influencing marine pest incursion pathways like vessel movement patterns. A risk framework is currently being developed which will identify high-priority marinas for the provision of surveillance activities.

Activity 1.2

Relevant authorities to identify priority surveillance locations for marine pests based on outcome of 1.1.

Status: Commenced

Summary:

  • Priority locations in Australia have been identified including ports, marinas, and marine protected areas.
  • Marine pest active and passive surveillance programs are being implemented at some these locations.
  • Stakeholders are being engaged during the surveillance. These include port authorities, commercial divers, indigenous rangers, and the general public.

Activity 1.3

Maintain an agreed list of priority pest species for surveillance.

Status: Commenced

Summary:

  • A list of priority marine pest species has been developed and will be shared with jurisdictions and organisations that undertake marine pest surveillance activities.
  • The Marine Pest Sectoral Committee (MPSC) checks regularly to see if any new pests should be added or removed from the list.
  • Priority lists are used to support surveillance, preparedness, and response management for these species.

Objective 2: To describe the different components and types of surveillance required to meet those objectives

Activity 2.1

Develop new and maintain existing surveillance tools and information for priority pest species for use in marine pest management.

Status: Commenced

Summary: We are developing updated guidance resources on marine pest surveillance. Aiming to replace the Australian marine pest monitoring guidelines along with the Australian marine pest monitoring manual. The updated guidelines will be used to plan and coordinate new surveillance activities.

Activity 2.2

Provide advice on use of surveillance techniques such that methods used across and between jurisdictions are quantifiable.

Status: Commenced

Summary: See the Compilation of Australian marine pest studies and diagnostic facilities. Australian marine pest molecular studies and a list of laboratory capabilities that have expertise in marine pest surveillance and identification using molecular techniques is available on request.

Please contact MPSC@aff.gov.au for more information.

Activity 2.3

Incorporate guidance for components of surveillance in the Emergency Marine Pest Plan.

Status: Commenced

Summary:

  • Molecular assays have been validated for a range of marine pest species. Where appropriate, information on these assays has been incorporated in the Emergency Marine Pest Plan (EMPPlan) resources. Molecular assays are an important surveillance tool that allows for accurate identification of marine pests.
  • Policy principles for determining the status of marine pests have been developed. These principles are available on request and will be published in national guidance resources.
  • A Task Group has been formed to develop National Guidelines on determining the Current Status of Marine Pests. The Guidelines will be used in conjunction with the Policy Principles for determining the Current Status of Marine Pests and to guide future marine pest surveillance within Australia.
  • Please contact MPSC@aff.gov.au for more information.

Activity 2.4

Ensure validated molecular detection techniques are nationally available for priority pest species.

Status: Commenced

Summary:

  • An updated list of the molecular detection tools for priority marine pests has been developed. This list is available for download online and will be updated as required.
  • Work is being done to validate PCR assays for 11 priority marine pest species. See activity 2.2 for more information.
  • A project has commenced to sequence more than 60 marine species of biosecurity concern in northern Australia as part of the National Biodiversity DNA Library (NBDL) project. The NBDL aims to improve early detection capabilities in marine pest eDNA surveillance.
  • Improved methods have been developed to detect the eDNA of Asian kelp/wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) and northern Pacific seastar (Asterias amurensis) in the marine environment. These methods will help increase early detection of these species.
  • Facilities that provide molecular diagnostic services have been collated. A list of facilities that can undertake molecular diagnostic services for marine pests is available on request.
  • Please contact MPSC@aff.gov.au for more information.

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Marine pest molecular studies relevant to Australia (XLSX 37 KB)

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Activity 2.5

Review and provide guidance on pest distribution modelling techniques that may be used in surveillance programs.

Status: Commenced

Summary: A project is underway to review the existing techniques that can be used to model marine pest distributions. Modelling marine pest distributions can assist with surveillance and inform response and management.

Activity 2.6

Facilitate passive surveillance by identifying mechanisms and resources required.

Status: Commenced

Summary:

  • National material for marine pests has been compiled and is available on the OceanWatch Website.
  • A gap analysis completed in early 2020 identified four sectors to be targeted for marine pest awareness: Ports, Marinas, Divers and Aquaculture. Materials such as posters, fact sheets and digital materials have been developed and distributed to these four sectors. The posters and fact sheets are available for download.
  • Jurisdictions have been actively sharing these resources with stakeholders to increase passive surveillance of marine pests.

Activity 2.7

Develop and implement a national marine pest surveillance data repository.

Status: Commenced

Summary: Species profile reviews on the National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (NIMPIS) are undertaken on a needs basis and as resources permit. A species profile has recently been developed for soft-shell clam Mya japonica.

Objective 3: To outline a nationally agreed approach to marine pest surveillance

Activity 3.1

Develop a National Marine Pest Surveillance Work Plan.

Status: Complete

Summary: The Marine Pest Sectoral Committee developed and published the National Marine Pest Surveillance Work Plan in 2021. The work plan will be used to guide implementation of the National Marine Pest Surveillance Strategy throughout 2021-2026.

Activity 3.2

Review Marine pest surveillance activities and data sets relevant to Australia.

Status: Commenced

Summary: A review of surveillance activities and datasets relevant to Commonwealth Places has been completed and the findings were shared with The Marine Pest Sectoral Committee (MPSC). Following this work, jurisdictions intend to undertake reviews of surveillance activities and datasets relevant to their jurisdiction.

Objective 4: To outline stakeholder responsibilities including identification of lead agencies responsible for undertaking surveillance and communications

Activity 4.1

Identify and engage stakeholder groups (including government) and educate on the importance of marine pest surveillance.

Status: Commenced

Summary:

  • A baseline survey is being developed to tailor existing and future marine pest education and engagement activities. The survey results will help establish a baseline of stakeholder knowledge and participation levels in marine pest activities.
  • Jurisdictions are implementing surveillance programs across their ports and marinas and encourage stakeholder participation.
  • Education materials including physical models of marine pests and visual presentations have been developed for school and Indigenous ranger groups to support education and awareness.
  • Jurisdictions are providing education resources to target groups by collaborating with educators, existing Indigenous ranger programs and with other marine pest stakeholder engagement projects.

Activity 4.2

Develop and maintain relationships with stakeholders to encourage surveillance, data sharing and early reporting.

Status: Commenced

Summary:

  • A midterm review of the National Priorities for Introduced Marine Pest Research and Development 2013- 2023 has been completed. The document serves to involve researchers in research and development projects of marine pests, while also facilitating access to resources for upcoming research and development (R&D) priorities. The review was circulated with the Marine Pest Sectoral Committee (MPSC) and is available on request.
  • Jurisdictions have been actively involved with sharing their marine pest work at symposia, conferences, and workshops to help maintain relationships with stakeholders and the research community.
  • Please contact MPSC@aff.gov.au for more information.

Activity 4.3

Support and develop international partnerships, to improve surveillance tools and capability.

Status: Not commenced