The anti-fouling and in-water cleaning guidelines provide best practice approaches to applying, maintaining, removing, and disposing of anti-fouling coatings. They are also used for managing biofouling and invasive aquatic species on vessels and movable structures in Australia and New Zealand.
The following guidelines are recommended for use by vessel maintenance service providers including:
- resource managers
- owners and operators of vessels and movable structures
- operators and customers of vessel maintenance facilities
These guidelines apply to all vessels and movable structures in Australian aquatic environments (marine, estuarine and freshwater) regardless of whether they have an anti-fouling coating.
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Biofouling occurs when marine organisms attach to the submerged surfaces of a vessel, such as the hull, propellers, anchors, niche areas and fishing gear. Vessel biofouling is a major pathway for the introduction of marine pests into Australian waters and can affect the performance of vessels and moveable structures. We work closely with our stakeholders to help minimise the biosecurity risk posed by biofouling.
Accidentally releasing marine pests during the application, maintenance and removal of anti-fouling coatings and during in-water cleaning operations can spread marine pests that threaten human health, the economy and the aquatic environment.
In-water cleaning and treatment of biofouling
The Australian, state and territory government collaborated with the maritime industry and vessel operators to review Australia’s anti-fouling and in-water cleaning guidelines.
Feedback on the draft Australian in-water cleaning standards is currently being considered.
The standards specify minimum requirements for in-water cleaning of biofouling from vessels in Australian territorial seas.
The implementation of the Australian in-water cleaning standards will ensure that biosecurity and chemical contamination risks associated with in-water cleaning and treatment activities are effectively and appropriately managed.
The technical standards will provide operators, developers and owners of in-water cleaning and treatment technologies with mechanisms to demonstrate that systems effectively meet Australian biosecurity and chemical contaminant standards.
Self-assessment and further assistance
the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) on the Referrals under the EPBC Act website.
If the EPBC Act does not apply to your vessel, check some general recommendations about in-water cleaning in Commonwealth waters and use the decision support tool in Appendix 1 of the guidelines to self-assess your activity.
For further advice or to obtain permission to clean your vessel in Commonwealth waters, contact the relevant Australian Government department.
- If the matter relates to the biosecurity risk of the activity, email the Marine pests team.
- If the matter relates to the anti-fouling contaminant risk, email the Community information unit
- If the matter relates to Commonwealth marine reserves, email the Marine reserves team.
In-water cleaning applications
The approval process to conduct in-water cleaning or treatment in an Australian port is complex. The application process varies between jurisdictions and can involve multiple government agencies and port authorities who consider the biosecurity risks and impacts the activity will have on the environment and operation of the port.
To obtain permission to clean your vessel in Australian state or territory waters, contact the relevant authority. It is important you give authorities sufficient time to consider your request before your proposed cleaning activity.
Be aware that in-water cleaning requests are unlikely to be approved due to the high biosecurity and environmental risks associated with in-water cleaning and treatment activities.
To avoid costs associated with unmanaged biofouling when entering Australian territorial waters, international vessels should be cleaned before they leave, rather than relying on in-water cleaning on arrival.
State and Territory authorities
For further advice or to obtain permission to clean your vessel in state or territory waters, contact the relevant state or territory authority:
New South Wales
Department of Primary Industries
Email Aquatic Pests
Port Authority of NSW
Email Shipping Manager
Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries
Email Aquatic Biosecurity
Additionally, contact the Port Authority, harbour master or Maritime Safety Queensland depending on location of proposed clean.
Primary Industries and Regions SA
Phone (08) 8207 7900
Email Environment Protection Authority SA
Phone (08) 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445
Department of Environment and Water SA
Phone: (+61 8) 8204 1910
Biosecurity Tasmania - Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment
Email Biosecurity Tasmania
Phone (03) 6165 3777 or 1800 368 550
1300 366 742
Incident Response Officer
Email Incident Response
Phone 1800 005 171
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Email Marine Pests
Email Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development – Aquatic Pest Biosecurity Group
For Vessel Management enquires – Vessel Management
For general Aquatic Pest Biosecurity enquiries – Aquatic Biosecurity
Phone (08) 9203 0111
Additionally, contact the relevant harbour master/port authority for cleaning in declared port areas and other relevant authorities for advice on contaminant release or discharges.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority – Assessments and Permissions