Sea containers and breakbulk cargo from countries and ports identified as having documented high levels of contamination, or high risk pests, are considered as high risk pathways by the department.
The department Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department) refers to these high risk countries or ports as Country Action List (CAL) locations. Sea containers and break bulk cargo originating/arriving from or transhipping through these countries and ports is referred to as CAL cargo.
Due to the increased risk, all CAL cargo originating/arriving from, or transhipping through an Australian port, are subject to heightened biosecurity measures on arrival including mandatory inspection. To minimise the risk of introducing pests or contaminants to Australia CAL cargo is inspected on wharf at the port of arrival.
The department may expand the CAL at its discretion to manage new or emerging biosecurity risks identified as posing a high level of biosecurity risk. Make sure you are aware of CAL requirements when importing CAL cargo into or via Australia.
The following countries have been identified as being on the CAL:
- American Samoa
- Brunei Darussalam
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- Christmas Island
- Congo (Democratic Republic)
- Cote d'Ivoire
- Equatorial Guinea
- French Polynesia
- Micronesia (Federated States of)
- New Caledonia
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- Wallis and Futuna
- West Papua
The cargo reporter must report discharge details for CAL cargo in the Department of Home Affairs Integrated Cargo System (ICS).
This information must be lodged:
- For a voyage longer than 48 hours — minimum 48 hours before the vessel is estimated to arrive at its first port in Australian territory.
- For a voyage shorter than 48 hours — minimum 12 hours before the vessel is estimated to arrive at its first port in Australian territory.
Empty CAL containers:
- For ports without empty container park Approved Arrangement (AA) sites, a biosecurity officer at the wharf of discharge will conduct internal inspections of empty containers at the same time as the external inspections.
- For ports with an empty container park Approved Arrangement AA site, empty containers will be directed to an empty container park for internal inspection. This happens after external inspection by a biosecurity officer. Shipping agents must nominate an AA site to receive the containers. Details of the site should be emailed to the department prior to vessel arrival to minimise potential delays in the release of cargo.
Shipping Agent responsibilities
The principal shipping agent:
- will be sent directions to secure all CAL cargo on the wharf for inspection
- is responsible for any cleaning and/or treatment directions associated with the CAL inspection
- must ensure all CAL related inspections are completed within direction timeframes
- is responsible for all department fees related to CAL inspections.
Charges associated with empty container park inspections, third party treatments and cleaning are applied by the relevant service provider.
Stevedores are responsible for managing CAL cargo on arrival. CAL cargo must be:
- managed in accordance with the First point of entry biosecurity standards (ports)
- stacked and stored separately to non-CAL cargo and salt ringed (or other department-approved control) to minimise pest movement and cross contamination
- must ensure all CAL related inspections are completed within direction timeframes
- held on the discharge wharf until released by the department in the ICS.
All cargo not reported in the ICS must be segregated and held until reported in the ICS.
Stevedores must provide biosecurity officers access to CAL cargo storage areas. They will confirm salt ringing or other approved barriers are in place and there is adequate separation from non-CAL cargo.
All CAL cargo must be inspected at the first Australian port of discharge, prior to release from the discharge wharf within 14 days of arrival.
A CAL Inspection consists of:
- a six-sided external inspection for all containers
- flat racks must be presented individually and with the end walls positioned upright and locked in position
- an external inspection of break bulk cargo
- an internal inspection of empty containers conducted by either:
- accredited industry staff at empty container park AA sites
- biosecurity officers at the wharf of discharge in ports without empty container park AA sites.
If on inspection biosecurity risk material is found, it will be removed or treated on wharf (if possible) and disposed of in an approved manner.
If it cannot be removed on wharf, the CAL cargo will be directed to a 1.1 Approved Arrangement located at the port of discharge for one of the following treatments:
- cleaning and reinspection
- other approved treatments.
See the biosecurity risk treatment guide for types of contamination and treatment options.
Note: detections of high risk mobile pests may require mandatory treatments to be undertaken on the wharf prior to any further movements being permitted.
Securing Cargo for movement
If there is a risk that external contamination may dislodge during movement to the Approved Arrangement, the biosecurity officer will direct that the cargo be managed accordingly, including:
- envelope tarping if contamination is present on multiple surfaces
- underside tarping if contamination only underneath container
- containerisation of the cargo
- any other department approved method.
The method of containment will be verified by Biosecurity Officers prior to any movement off wharf.
In the event of cross contamination, further action may be required on surrounding cargo. Surrounding cargo may include in-contact cargo or cargo in close proximity.
Due to varying types of cargo and tarping methods, the following general principles should be applied when tarping cargo:
- Tarpaulins should be made of impervious material which is waterproof and strong enough to prevent passage of pests or leakage of biosecurity risks.
- The ends or any seams of the tarpaulin that overlap must be securely fastened with suitable tape, wrap or other means that is able to withstand transportation or climatic conditions such as high winds or heavy rain.
- If obscured by the tarpaulin the cargo ID must be visibly written on the tarpaulin.
- When full envelope tarping is directed the entire cargo must be fully enveloped, including the undersides.
- If multiple tarpaulins are required, the lower tarpaulin must be sufficiently overlapped by the top tarpaulin/s.
- Where partial tarping has been directed, only the affected areas of the cargo require tarping, for example the tracks of a bulldozer. If the type or shape of the cargo prevents adequate partial tarping of the contaminated areas then full envelope tarping is acceptable.
- Tarpaulins used to contain biosecurity risk are susceptible to cross-contamination. To ensure no biosecurity risk has been transferred to the tarpaulin they will be inspected by a biosecurity officer prior to re-use or can be disposed of as biosecurity waste.
Electronic holds are applied in the ICS to any cargo originating/arriving from, or transhipping through, a CAL country or port. Held CAL cargo cannot be moved from the wharf until the ICS hold is lifted by the department.
Ensure you check the status of your cargo with the relevant stevedore before you arrange collection. Cargo with a ‘conditional clear’ status in the ICS may still be subject to further biosecurity measures prior to being unpacked or collected.
The Sea Container Hygiene System (SCHS) is a voluntary biosecurity agreement developed by industry in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment (the department) and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (NZMPI). The agreement seeks to manage biosecurity risk associated with sea containers imported from Country Action list (CAL) countries at the port of loading.
Participants in the SCHS that meet sea container hygiene requirements as set out by the department can benefit from a reduced intervention rate on external container inspections on arrival in Australia. With ongoing compliance, sea container inspections on arrival can reduce to as low as five percent, delivering cost-savings to participants through reduced inspections, cleaning and treatment fees, as well as reduced container dwell-times on wharf.
Further information can be found on the SCHS webpage.
Australian ports are regularly used by shipping industries to tranship goods destined for other countries. Where certain conditions can be met, CAL cargo that is to being transhipped through Australia to an overseas destination may be allowed to do so without inspection by the department.
To be eligible for a transhipment without inspection all the following minimum requirements must be met:
- cargo must be reported in the ICS as having an overseas final destination
- transhipment forms must be submitted to the department at least 1 full business day before vessel arrival
- where the wharf storage period is longer than 14 days Industry are asked to contact the department to see what action may be required. (Days are counted from date of discharge to date of loading).
- cargo must be segregated from other cargo on the wharf and surrounded by an uninterrupted salt barrier or other department-approved barrier
- cargo must be loaded directly aboard the stated on-carrying vessel and shipped directly overseas from the wharf of arrival, unless permission has been granted to move the cargo to another wharf. In these instances, an external inspection is required, but the requirement for an internal inspection may be removed. Other biosecurity risk factors will be taken into consideration on a case by case basis.
Where transhipment of cargo without department inspection is approved, the cargo:
- may be subject to random verification inspections on the wharf to verify compliance with Australia’s biosecurity requirements (prior to transhipping) and any biosecurity risks detected may result in further intervention on a fee-for-service basis.
- may be directed for further intervention at any time if requirements are not met.
- Transhipping empty containers generally do not require internal inspection if selected, unless advised otherwise by a biosecurity officer (Example: live pests are detected on container surfaces).
How can I request transhipment of CAL without inspection?
To request CAL cargo be transhipped without inspection:
- download and complete the CAL cargo transhipment form
- email the completed form to the department at least 1 full business day before vessel arrival.
Assessment Fees will apply. For further information refer to the departments charging guidelines.
The requesting party must advise the department immediately if any of the details of the transhipment change after the request has been granted (e.g. departure date or vessel change). Failure to advise of changes, or failure to comply with conditions, may result in approval to tranship without inspection being withdrawn and/or non-compliance action.
If you see a biosecurity risk that you think may have hitchhiked to Australia, secure the goods to limit the movement where possible and immediately report it to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment on 1800 798 636 or complete the online form.