Marine pests and diseases are great hitchhikers and readily attach themselves to hulls, internal water systems, damp spaces or to boating gear such as anchors, ropes and buckets. With more than one million recreational vessels in Australia, there are many opportunities for pests to inadvertently spread as boats move from one place to another.
Outbreaks can have devastating impacts on our native marine life, the local tourism industry, marine equipment and human health. There are a number of things you can do to help to ensure pests and diseases are not spread throughout our waterways.
Clean your boat and gear
All boat owners have an obligation to act in a responsible manner on our waterways. If you trailer your boat, you can:
- Check for – and remove – entangled or attached biofouling (e.g. seaweed) from your vessel or trailer.
- Check outboard and hull fixtures for water that could harbour potential marine pests.
- Before travelling to a new location, rinse your boat inside and out with fresh water, drain and allow to dry for 48 hours.
- Dispose of any biofouling and waste water in bins or landfill so that it cannot be returned to the water.
Application of antifouling
If your boat is moored in water, you should apply an antifouling coating to the hull. If you don’t it can affect your boat’s performance, fuel efficiency and can allow pests and diseases an easy ride to spread throughout our waterways.
There is a selection of antifouling products available and selecting the best one for you needs to be based on your:
- Vessel type/operating profile
- Vessel construction (e.g. wood, steel, aluminium)
- Pattern of use and activity
There are antifouling coating suppliers Australia wide. Consult your nearest supplier for advice. REMEMBER! Antifouling products containing tributyltin are prohibited in Australia.
Reporting marine pests
Australia is lucky to remain free from some of the world’s most destructive marine pests and diseases. But unfortunately, some have made their way here. Species like the northern pacific sea star, have become an aggressive pests. These pests can deplete fishing spots, damage your marine equipment and even make you sick.
Because marine pests aren’t fussy about how they get here or how they spread, everyone who uses the marine environment in Australia, whether for recreation or business, can play an important role in helping reduce the threat.
This can be as simple as:
- Keeping your vessel and equipment clean and well maintained, paying particular attention to hard to reach areas
- Ensuring your antifouling coat is up to date
- Complying with all Commonwealth or state regulations relating to marine pests
- National biofouling management guidelines for recreational vessels
- The National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions
WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
How to be a marine steward – Ocean Watch guidelines
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Victorian Fisheries Authority
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment