Marine Pests

Non-native marine pests can be introduced to Australian shores within ship ballast water and on ship and boat hulls (biofouling). Marine pests can detrimentally affect marine ecology, fisheries and tourism and so present both a biodiversity and economic risk to NSW.

Getting rid of introduced marine pests once they have established is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

To help manage the risks, Port of Newcastle is a member of the NSW Marine Pests Working Group with representatives from Biosecurity NSW (Department of Primary Industries), NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, Roads & Maritime Services, Port Authority NSW and the private port organisation of NSW Ports.

Ballast water

Australia has ballast water management requirements to prevent new marine pests arriving in Australia as a result of ballast water discharge.

Ballast water requirements for arriving international vessels
Accordion Controller

All arriving international vessels are required to manage their ballast water in accordance with the Australian ballast water management requirements, which provide guidance on how vessel operators should manage ballast water when operating within Australian seas in order to comply with the Biosecurity Act 2015.

The Department of Agriculture provides further information to assist operators comply with the requirements.

Future ballast water management requirements
Accordion Controller

A comprehensive set of domestic ballast water management arrangements are being developed under the National System to complement the existing requirements for international vessels. Once implemented, all vessels whether on domestic or international voyages will be required to manage ballast water to prevent the introduction and spread of introduced marine pests.

These arrangements will be consistent with the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, which Australia has signed subject to ratification.


Marine pests can be introduced into the environment via biofouling, which is the accumulation of marine organisms (plants or animals) that attach to objects immersed in salt water (such as vessel hulls, ropes, anchors and other equipment).

The risk of marine pests being spread via biofouling can be reduced by incorporating practices that minimise the build-up of biofouling into routine vessel maintenance programs. A ‘National Biofouling Management Guidelines for Commercial Vessels’ has been developed and provides an important reference for owners, operators, docking superintendents and maintenance contract managers, particularly in the following circumstances:

  • Managing biofouling when operating in Australian waters.
  • Preparing a vessel prior to arrival in Australia (or any other country) to ensure it is free of marine pests on entry.
  • Developing maintenance contracts that will meet best practice in biofouling management and ensure optimal performance.
  • Supervising maintenance contractors.

In water cleaning

The ‘Anti-Fouling and In-Water Cleaning Guidelines’ apply to vessels and moveable structures such as pontoons, aquaculture installations and navigational structures.

Owners and operators wishing to in-water clean in NSW are advised to contact the Aquatic Biosecurity Unit of the Department of Primary Industries. Approval from the relevant State authorities will be required prior to undertaking any in-water cleaning in NSW. For in-water cleaning in Commonwealth waters, please visit the Department of Agriculture. Owners and operators wishing to in-water clean in NSW are advised to contact the Aquatic Biosecurity Unit of the Department of Primary Industries

Phone: +61 2 4982 1232