New ballast water laws to protect Australian shores

From today, Australia’s coastal and marine environments will enjoy stronger protection as an international treaty and new laws requiring better ballast water biosecurity come into force.

Head of biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Lyn O’Connell, said unmanaged ballast water posed a serious biosecurity threat that could potentially introduce a wide range of invasive marine species to our waters.

“Ballast water is water taken on board by vessels to maintain stability on a voyage—and it could be taken on-board anywhere in the world,” Ms O’Connell said.

“It can bring with it exotic species that could devastate Australia’s $2.8 billion fisheries industry, damage our unique marine environment and reduce its recreational value.

“Vessels moving ballast water between Australian ports can further spread marine pests already established in some parts of Australia.

“The international ballast water treaty and Australian legislation that both enter into force today introduce clear requirements for all vessels entering and moving in Australian waters that are designed to address these risks.”

Ms O’Connell said the Biosecurity Amendment (Ballast Water and Other Measures) Act 2017 also brought Australia into line with the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments.

“Australia was a key player in the development of the international ballast water convention—first signing up in 2005,” Ms O’Connell said.

“That convention has now become a global initiative involving more than 50 countries.

“Both the convention and the Australian legislation introduce consistent rules for ballast water that apply to all voyages to Australian ports.

“Every vessel operator must now comply with the new rules, which apply nationwide.”

More information can be found at

Information on the international convention is available online.​
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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