Review of national marine pest biosecurity frequently asked questions

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​​​Why is the department reviewing national marine pest biosecurity?

The government wants to strengthen national marine pest biosecurity arrangements. It committed $5 million over four years for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to review existing arrangements and implement improvements for a strengthened national approach to marine pest biosecurity. This commitment was part of the 2013 Coalition’s Policy for a more competitive and sustainable fisheries sector.

How was the review done?

The review was undertaken as a three stage process.

Stage 1: Issue paper

In October 2014, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources released an issues paper designed to gather stakeholder comments and feedback on existing marine pest biosecurity arrangements that work well and those that could be improved.  Those with an interest in marine pest biosecurity were encouraged to comment on the paper by making a written submission. Twenty two submissions were received.

Meetings and discussions were also held with over 30 organisations during November and December 2014.

Stage 2: Discussion paper and workshops

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources used the outcomes of discussions, comments and submissions from stakeholders in the issues paper stage to develop a discussion paper. The discussion paper sought further input from stakeholders on a number of issues and proposals identified by stakeholders:

  • resourcing and commitment for the National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions
  • current biofouling management requirements across jurisdictions
  • the ‘species based’ approach to manage biofouling
  • domestic ballast water management implementation
  • implementation of the National Monitoring Strategy.

All interested stakeholders were invited to provide a written submission to address any or all of the questions posed in the discussion paper and sixteen submissions were received.

The department also held stakeholder workshops in each state and territory during April 2015 to further explore the issues raised in the discussion paper. Over 90 people participated in these workshops.

Stage 3: Final report to Government

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ report  PD​F [4 MB, 123 pages]  Word​ [3 MB, 123 pages] to government was released by Minister Joyce in December 2015. The report focuses on the Australian Government’s responsibilities and activities in national marine pest biosecurity arrangements and takes into consideration the feedback received from stakeholders throughout the various phases of consultation. The report makes 13 recommendations on opportunities to set a new direction in strengthening Australia’s marine pest biosecurity arrangements.

What is the ‘new direction’ for national marine pest biosecurity?

The new direction involves a focus on prevention measures and more collaborative approach to developing our national marine pest biosecurity arrangements. The Australian Government will focus on prevention measures to minimise marine pests entering, becoming established and spreading in Australia. This will include a changed approach to proposed management of risks from biofouling on all vessels entering Australian waters. Implementing national marine pest biosecurity measures through a more collaborative approach will improve our framework to better reflect that national marine pest biosecurity is a shared responsibility. To support this the Australian Government will establish a marine pest network to provide a formal mechanism to engage interested people and organisations in improving national marine pest biosecurity.

What will happen to the current National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions?

The National System has never been fully implemented, in part due to difficulties in attracting and maintaining resources for key components. The review proposes that the National System be replaced by a national strategy with clear objectives and with considered and achievable implementation plans that take into account available funding. This recommendation will be considered by the Marine Pest Sectoral Committee which has governance over the National System.​

What will happen to the National Monitoring Strategy?

The review found that the high cost strategy has not met its objectives and has been inconsistently implemented. It recommends that the existing strategy be set aside and a new monitoring and surveillance strategy be developed that is both cost-effective and resourced. It should have clear objectives that are understood and agreed by stakeholders. Practical and cost-effective monitoring and surveillance techniques should be identified that will achieve each objective, rather than the current ‘one size fits all’ approach. This recommendation will be considered by the Marine Pest Sectoral Committee which has governance over the National System.

What will the network achieve?

The establishment of a marine pest network will provide a formal mechanism for scientists, industry, governments and interested members of the public to work together and improve our national marine pest biosecurity. The network will enable all participating stakeholders to develop strong partnerships that contribute to improving communication, coordinate research and development, and the better detection of marine pests and risks.

What is the status of Australian Government biofouling regulation?

The review considered Australia’s proposed national biofouling management requirements. The Biofouling Decision Regulation Impact Statement is currently being updated to meet the Office of Best Practice Regulation’s requirements. Those requirements include that compliance costs of proposed regulation on industry are identified and offset by reductions in existing regulation. Further updates to the Biofouling Decision Regulation Impact Statement will be made by the department following acceptance of relevant recommendations in the review’s report to the government.

When will the Australian Government implement the recommendations?

The department will work with stakeholders over the next three years to implement the recommendations.

Can I give the department feedback on the report?

Yes, the department welcomes your feedback. Please email the Marine Pest Unit of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.​