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Managing biofouling in Australia

​​​Calling all recreational and commercial vessel owners and operators

Join our in-water hull and biofouling survey - if you are an owner or operator of an international or a domestic commercial vessel that visits ports outside Australia.

Join our recreational boat survey - if you own a yacht, cruiser or motor boat that is usually kept in marine waters in Australia, you can help us better understand biofouling on recreational boats.

All vessels pose some risk to Australia’s marine biosecurity.

Biofouling are the marine plants and animals that attach and grow on the submerged parts of a vessel like the hull, propellers, anchors, niche areas and fishing gear. Vessel biofouling is a major pathway for the introduction of exotic species into Australian waters.

The introduction and spread of marine species into and around our waters through biofouling, or in a ship’s ballast water, can harm fisheries, threaten healthy fish habitats and have widespread economic and health effects.

To manage this risk, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is working closely with Australian and international commercial and domestic recreational vessel industries on a number of initiatives.

New biofouling management standards for international vessels

International vessels can bring unwanted pests and diseases into Australia through biofouling and in ballast water.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015, we are investigating new biofouling management options for vessels arriving in Australian waters.
We consulted with industry stakeholders in 2015 on the Review of National Marine Pest Biosecurity, where it was recommended that Australia introduce new biofouling regulations for international vessels consistent with those set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

As a result, we are revising the 2011 Regulation Impact Statement (RIS)with consultation expected to start in early 2017.

The new RIS will:

  • assess the biofouling problem
  • establish why government action is required
  • present the costs and benefits of each biofouling management option identified.

We will provide further updates as they become available.

To learn more or subscribe to our mailing list, please email our Marine Pest Unit.

In-water hull and biofouling survey

If you are an owner or operator of an international or a domestic commercial vessel that visits ports outside Australia, you can join our  in-water hull and biofouling survey.

The information gathered will help inform new International Maritime Organization (IMO) consistent biofouling standards for Australia.

Survey closes 31 May 2017.

Recreational vessel survey

With around one million recreational boats, Australia’s recreational boating communities play an important role in helping prevent the spread of marine pests.

To help us better understand how marine pests are spread throughout our waters, we’re inviting recreational boats owners and operators to join our recreational boat survey.

Survey runs from 1 February to 31 July 2017.

Advice on biofouling management

The National Biofouling Management Guidelines are designed to help the maritime industry and vessel owners and operators to manage and control vessel biofouling.

Managing vessel biofouling not only reduces the risk of harmful plants and animals entering new waters, but also helps improves vessel performance, reduces CO2 emissions and maintenance costs.

Current advice and guidelines are available to help you manage biofouling on your vessel or in your industry:

Anti-fouling and in water cleaning

The protection and cleaning activities you undertake to manage biofouling on your vessel, can also threaten the health of our marine waters.

The anti-fouling and in-water cleaning guidelines can help you manage risks associated with:

  • anti-fouling coatings on the hull of your vessel, including application, maintenance, removal and disposal at shore-based maintenance facilities
  • biofouling plants and animals released during in-water cleaning operations.

Managing the risks of marine pest incursions

The department provides national leadership in the development and implementation of national marine pest biosecurity.

The department is also the lead agency in implementing Australian Government responsibilities under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity and the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement.

For more information or to subscribe to our mailing list for marine biosecurity updates, please contact the Marine Pest Unit.