Bulk cabotage cargo of fertiliser, grain and stockfeed

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department) is responsible for managing the risk associated with the movement of all domestic bulk in-ship agricultural commodities on board international vessels.

Bulk vessels can harbour exotic pests and plant diseases such as Karnal bunt, which if introduced into Australia, could have the potential to severely impact Australia’s agricultural sector, natural environment and economy.

The department regulates international bulk vessels that:

  • have carried goods we consider high-risk (actionable cargo)
  • will be carrying bulk fertiliser, grain or stockfeed domestically (cabotage cargo).

Your vessel must comply with our requirements before you can transport bulk cabotage cargo.

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Actionable cargo

Check if you are carrying, or have carried, an actionable (high risk) cargo. Actionable cargo can vary depending on the origin of the goods. This includes:

  • grains and cereal crops (such as wheat, barley, oats, maize, sorghum)
  • leguminous crops (such as beans, peas, soybean, lucerne)
  • meals and stockfeed (such as soybean meal, canola meal, palm kernel expeller, fishmeal)
  • oilseed crops (such as rapeseed, canola, cottonseed, sunflower)
  • rice that is raw, unpolished, with husks on (excluding white polished, milled rice, bagged)
  • sugar cane (excluding raw or processed sugar bagged or bulk).
  • sand, excluding mineral sands (such as rutile, ilmenite, zircon and garnet and aggregates not containing sand)

Logs and timber products are not actionable cargo. Plant material found in bulk cargo (including leaves, weed seeds, twigs, woodchips and bark) is an actionable biosecurity risk.

Vessel requirements

International vessels that will be carrying a cabotage cargo of domestic bulk fertiliser, grain or stockfeed must either:

  • hold Level 1 cabotage vessel status; or
  • undertake a verified, in-hold assessment by a marine surveyor prior to loading.

Vessels with Level 1 vessel status

A Level 1 cabotage vessel must have:

The vessel retains Level 1 status as long as an actionable cargo has not been transported since the issue of Level 1 status.

Vessels without Level 1 vessel status

If your vessel does not hold Level 1 cabotage vessel status, you must:

  • have an in-hold survey (empty hold assessment) completed before loading cabotage fertiliser, grain or stockfeed.

In-hold survey

An in-hold survey must be performed:

  • by a third party marine surveyor,
  • using high-reach or man-lift equipment,
  • at a terminal or wharf during daylight hours, and
  • on all holds loading cabotage cargo.

A biosecurity officer will also conduct a verification inspection while the marine surveyor and high-reach equipment are on board.

Verified in-hold surveys are conducted at locations staffed by our officers. Prior approval must be sought for verification of in-hold vessel surveys at other unstaffed locations. Fees will apply.

Guidance for surveyors on hold inspections can be found in the Imported Inorganic Bulk Cargo Fertiliser Policy section: Surveyor’s Guidelines – Inspecting the Vessel.

Vessel Cleanliness Certificate

The department uses this certificate to confirm a Level 1 status for the inspected holds of the vessel.

Vessel Cleanliness Certificate can be known by other names, these include:

  • Certificate of Hold Cleanliness
  • Certificate of Fitness to Load Grain.

This certificate is issued by a third-party marine surveyor and verifies that a vessel has passed inspection.

To be accepted by the department, the certificate must contain all of the following information:

  • vessel name and IMO number,
  • ports of loading and discharge,
  • holds inspected and results,
  • confirmation that the survey was performed using high-reach or man-lift equipment,
  • cargo to be loaded and tonnage,
  • date and time of inspection,
  • name, signature, and qualification of the Marine Surveyor.

Cargo loaded on a vessel without level 1 status

Cabotage cargo loaded without a Vessel Cleanliness Certificate must be inspected at each port of discharge.

A landed cargo inspection will be conducted at an Approved Arrangement site. Fees apply for this inspection.

The department may order goods to be exported from Australia if:

  • they are contaminated, or
  • no viable treatment option is available in Australia.

Shipping agent and shippers responsibilities

Shipping agents and shippers should notify the department a minimum of 3 working days prior to the vessel’s arrival, of their intention to load dry bulk cabotage agricultural commodities, to avoid any possible delays.

Notification can be provided by:

The department will provide a risk rating for the vessel or advise you if the vessel requires inspection within 2 business days of receipt of your notification form.

The department will also notify all ports of discharge that the vessel has Level 1 cabotage status, or that landed cargo inspections are required. We will also maintain a record of the vessel’s Level 1 cabotage status.

In-hold inspection

Where an in-hold survey is required, before arrival of the vessel Shipping agents and shippers must also:

  • make arrangements for the in-hold survey by a marine surveyor
  • complete and submit the Notification of inspection of bulk cabotage vessel
  • book a verification inspection with us at the same time as the marine survey is being conducted
  • advise us who to charge for the supervision activity.

When the in-hold survey is complete, submit your Vessel Cleanliness Certificate. This must be completed by the marine surveyor.

Information on Fees and charges

Under the Biosecurity Charges Imposition (General) Regulation 2016 and the Biosecurity Regulation 2016, fees are payable to the department for all services. Details on how the department applies fees and levies can be found in the charging guidelines.

The department charges fee-for-service rates for verification inspections undertaken by our officers.

Further information

For further information regarding cabotage cargo please contact the department on 1800 900 090 or email: fertiliser.chemical@awe.gov.au.

Last reviewed: 12 October 2020
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