What you can do to Protect Australia's Aquatic Animal Health

​​​Risks to Australian aquatic animal health can come from a variety of sources, including aquarium (ornamental) fish, bait and berley, seafood, and fishing and boating equipment. The main risks associated with sources such as these are the spread of diseases and parasites to new areas, as well as the potential for live species to become pests.

You can play a vital role in protecting Australia’s aquatic animal health. Outlined below are some practical things all members of the public can do to protect the health of Australia’s aquatic animals.

Aquarium Fish

What you can do:

  • Never release aquarium fish into waterways
  • Return unwanted fish to your local pet store (most pet shops will take healthy fish)
  • Humanely euthanase fish and dispose of in municipal waste.

Bait and Berley

What you can do:

  • If you catch your own bait use it only in the water body it came from
  • Never release live bait into a water body other than the one it was caught in
  • Never use seafood intended for human consumption as bait
  • Only buy products to use as bait that are being sold as bait; for example, from retail outlets such as fishing stores
  • Make sure you are familiar with and follow regulations on the use of bait and berley in your state or territory.


What you can do:

  • Never dispose of seafood or seafood waste (e.g. prawn heads or oyster shells) in waterways
  • Always dispose of unwanted seafood and seafood waste in municipal waste.

Fishing and Boating Equipment

What you can do:

  • Dislodge plants and animals from equipment and clothing so you don’t move them to other waterways
  • Drain water from boats and equipment
  • Rinse boats and equipment with fresh water, without letting this water drain into any waterways
  • Wash boats and equipment (including waders, boots and nets) with detergent, rinse with tap water and dry completely before moving to another waterway.
  • Make sure you are familiar with and follow any biosecurity guidelines or regulations for fishers and boaters in your state or territory.

Other risks to Aquatic Animal Health

Infectious diseases are just one source of risk to aquatic animal health in Australia. Other risks include:

  • Environmental risks – see the Department of Environment website for further information
  • Invasive species – see the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Marine Pests web pages and the CRC and CSIRO websites for further information. The CRC also has an iOS app available for free download, containing information on invasive animals and quick links to resources for pest control.

Disease Detection

If you see any unusual disease signs in aquatic animals, please report it i​mmediately to the disease watch hotline. Early detection is important for effective disease response.

Further information

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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