In-water cleaning is the physical removal of biofouling from submerged surfaces of vessels or other structures. In-water cleaning includes hull grooming, propeller cleaning or polishing and cleaning of niche areas.
Release of biofouling and toxicants during in-water cleaning operations can impact the aquatic environment, water quality and human health by spreading invasive aquatic species and pathogens.
Anti-fouling guidelines and in-water cleaning standards
The anti-fouling guidelines and in-water cleaning standards are best-practice approaches for vessels and moveable structures in Australia on:
- removal and disposal of anti-fouling coatings
- cleaning of biofouling.
The guidelines aim to minimise contamination and biosecurity risks associated with shore-based and in-water maintenance of vessels and movable structures.
These guidelines also contain Australian in-water cleaning standards. The standards provide a decision-making framework for regulators to assess the biosecurity and chemical contamination risks of in-water cleaning of biofouling from vessels in Australian territorial seas.
They are not the conditions of approval for in-water cleaning operations within Australia. Please contact the state or territory authorities listed below to obtain the relevant requirements for your proposed in-water cleaning activity.
The updated guidelines will be released in 2024. In the meantime, please refer to the current anti-fouling and in-water cleaning guidelines (2015).
If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.
Requests to in-water clean in Australia
The approval process to conduct in-water cleaning or treatment in Australian waters is complex. The application process varies between locations and can involve multiple government agencies and port authorities who consider the biosecurity and toxicant risks and impacts the activity may have on the environment.
To request permission to clean your vessel in Australian state or territory waters, contact the relevant authorities. It is important you give authorities sufficient time to consider your request before your proposed cleaning activity. Some Australian state and territory governments have separate legislation relating to the removal and disposal of biofouling.
State and territory contacts
Contact the relevant state or territory authority for advice on cleaning your vessel:
New South Wales
Department of Primary Industries
Email Aquatic Biosecurity
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
Website Biofouling and Ballast Water
Department of Environment and Water SA
Phone: (+61 8) 8204 1910
1300 366 742
Incident Response Officer
Email Incident Response
Phone 1800 005 171
Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action
Email Marine Pests
Email Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development – Aquatic Pest Biosecurity Group
DPIRD only assess the pest biosecurity risk. Please 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
For all in-water cleaning related activities in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park contact:
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority – Assessments and Permissions