Spotlight on domestic boating biosecurity

ABARES has today released the Recreational boat operators’ self-management of biofouling in Australia report, providing an overview of current biofouling practices by boat operators across the nation.

ABARES Acting Executive Director, David Galeano, said the survey involved more than 1585 recreational boaters who had a high level of awareness of marine pest risks.

“Biofouling is a term for the growth on a boats hull that can move invasive pests and diseases from one marine environment to another, which is a biosecurity risk,” Mr Galeano said.

“The good news is that domestic recreational boat operators who participated in the survey already undertake a range of biofouling management actions on a regular basis.

“More than 60 per cent were using best-practice approaches, such as regularly cleaning the boat hull and niche areas of the boat, renewing anti-fouling coatings each year and capturing biofouling waste after cleaning.

“Close to 70 per cent also said they would be likely to capture and dispose of biofouling waste in the future.

“The survey did find only a small contingent were cleaning their boats before moving to another location, which is the most effective action that domestic boaters can take to reduce vessel biofouling.

“However, the majority of respondents were interested in engaging in more biofouling practices and had considerable interest in doing the right thing to protect the environment.”

Around half of the survey respondents owned vessels, such as yachts and motor cruisers, that remain in the water most of the time. Stationary vessels are particularly susceptible to the growth of invasive marine plants and animals.

Australia’s national approach to domestic marine pest biosecurity relies on voluntary uptake of the national biofouling management guidelines by recreational vessel operators, to prevent and manage biofouling growth.

The full report is available on the ABARES website at

Last reviewed: 5 February 2020
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