Anti-fouling and in-water cleaning guidelines

Department of Agriculture, 2019

The anti-fouling and in-water cleaning guidelines provide best practice approaches to applying, maintaining, removing and disposing of anti-fouling coatings and managing biofouling and invasive aquatic species on vessels and movable structures in Australia and New Zealand.

The guidelines are recommended for use by resource managers, owners and operators of vessels and movable structures, operators and customers of vessel maintenance facilities, and contractors providing vessel maintenance services. These guidelines are applicable 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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About biofouling

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. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources works closely with its 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 Northern Territory governments are collaborating with maritime industry and vessel operators to review Australia’s anti-fouling and in-water cleaning guidelines and to develop an In-water cleaning and treatment standard.

An Australian in-water cleaning and treatment standard (the standard) will ensure that biosecurity risks associated with in-water cleaning and treatment activities are effectively and appropriately managed. The standard will provide performance criteria and a mechanism for operators, developers and owners of in-water cleaning and treatment technologies to demonstrate systems effectively meet Australian biosecurity standards.

Self-assessment and further assistance

Learn more about your obligations in relation to Australia’s marine environment and biodiversity under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) on the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy 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, please contact the relevant Commonwealth department:

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, environmental and port operation impacts of the activity.

To obtain permission to clean your vessel in Australian state or territory waters please contact the relevant authority. It is important that you give authorities sufficient time to consider your request prior to your proposed cleaning activity.

Please 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 we recommend that international vessels clean before they leave, rather than relying on in-water cleaning to manage biofouling on arrival.

For further advice or to obtain permission to clean your vessel in state or territory waters, please contact the relevant state or territory authority:

New South Wales
Department of Primary Industries
Email Aquatic Pests
Port Authority of NSW
Email Shipping Manager

Northern Territory
Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries
Email Aquatic Biosecurity
Phone +61 0413 381 094

Queensland
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Email Biosecurity Queensland
Phone 13 25 23
Email Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
Phone 13 74 68

Additionally, contact the Port Authority, harbour master or Maritime Safety Queensland depending upon location of proposed clean.

South Australia
Primary Industries and Regions SA
Email Biosecurity
Phone (08) 8207 7900
Email Environment Protection Authority SA
Phone (08) 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445

Tasmania
Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment
Email Biosecurity Tasmania
Phone (03) 6165 3777 or 1800 084 881

Victoria
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Email Marine Pests
Environmental Protection Authority, VIC
Email Environmental Protection Authority Victoria
Phone 1300 372 842

Contact the relevant harbour master/port authority for cleaning in declared port areas.

Western Australia
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.


Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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