Management of vessels during the Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) risk season

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BMSB seasonal measures will apply to vessels that berth, load or tranship cargo from target risk countries between 1 September and 30 April 2022.

The seasonal measures enable the department to:

  • Improve the department’s ability to assess seasonal pest risks on vessels prior to arrival.
  • Enhance the ability for all parties to manage risks offshore, at berth and onshore.
  • Improve the effectiveness and timeliness of BMSB mitigation activities.

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Who do seasonal measures apply to?

Seasonal measures apply to all roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) vessels that berth at, load or tranship in target risk countries between 1 September 2021 and 30 April.

The list of target risk countries for the BMSB risk season is available on our Seasonal measures for Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) webpage.

What are the seasonal measures for vessels?

Vessel surveillance for specified vessel types

Between September and May all Ro-Ro vessels are sent a seasonal pest questionnaire as part of their pre-arrival reporting.

Ro-Ro vessels that have berthed at, loaded or transhipped cargo from target risk countries will be directed to perform a crew vessel inspection and report their findings through the Seasonal Pest Questionnaire.

Other vessels must report the detection of any insects as part of their ordinary pre-arrival reporting. When BMSB, or other actionable exotic species are reported, the vessels will be directed to perform a crew vessel inspection.

Mandated seasonal pest inspections for RoRo vessels from target risk countries

Ro-Ro vessels that have berthed, loaded or transhipped from target risk countries will be subject to a mandatory seasonal pest inspection on arrival in Australian territory.

Under the following circumstances the mandatory SP inspection may be exempt.

  • Ro-Ro vessels that have only loaded cargo that has been treated by a BMSB approved method, is covered by a safeguarding agreement, or is compliant with New, Unused and Not Field Tested (NUFT) BMSB requirements and have detected no insects on board during their voyage.
  • Ro-Ro vessels that participate in the Vessel Seasonal Pest Scheme (VSPS) and have detected no insects on board during their voyage.

How do I inspect my vessel for seasonal pests?

Seasonal pests, including BMSB, pose a high risk to Australia because of their tendency to hitchhike and their highly mobile nature. Between September and April, coinciding with late autumn and winter in the northern hemisphere, BMSB will seek shelter from cold weather in crevices or protected areas.

Ro-Ro vessel masters are required to confirm that a crew vessel inspection of their vessel has been completed prior to arriving in Australia. The purpose of this inspection is to detect any seasonal pests that may be on board.

Where to look

Seasonal pests are very small and may be hidden in hard to see places. Crew vessel inspections of vessels should include:

  • All cargo holds/decks and adjoining stairwells
  • The outside surface of shipping containers
  • Inside and on the outside surface of machinery and vehicles (where possible)
  • Near light sources.

What pre-arrival reporting is required?

Pre-arrival reporting assists the department to assess the condition of a vessel prior to its arrival in Australian territory. This reporting informs the department of any potential biosecurity risks that are associated with human, animal and plant health, goods and ballast water for each vessel during its voyage in Australia.

When to report

In accordance with section 193 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (the Act), commercial vessel operators intending to enter Australian territory must report to the department between 96 and 12 hours before the vessel’s estimated time of arrival in Australian waters.

Vessel masters are encouraged to submit their Pre-Arrival Report (PAR) as close as possible to 96 hours prior to arrival to avoid any delay in assessment of seasonal pest biosecurity risks.

Failure to give a report containing the information required may contravene subsection 193(4) of the Act.

How to submit a seasonal pest questionnaire

Once a pre-arrival report has been received through the Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS), all Ro-Ro vessels will be provided with a Seasonal Pest Questionnaire for completion.

The Seasonal Pest Questionnaire will request details of the vessel’s recent ports of call, whether the vessel has been approved for participation in the Vessel Seasonal Pest Scheme (VSPS), whether it has been fogged during its current voyage, and the results of any crew vessel inspections.

All Ro-Ro vessels will be required to perform at least one crew vessel inspection. Where insects are detected, the vessel will be required to perform two additional inspections over 48 hours.

Where insects are detected, vessel masters must provide details of the number of live and dead insects found and the deck and hold location they were found.

Clear photos of all insects must be submitted along with the completed Seasonal Pest Questionnaire. The Seasonal Pest Questionnaire includes guidance on how to take photos of insects.

All insects must be kept refrigerated (NOT stored in the freezer) for presentation to a biosecurity officer on arrival in Australia.

What is a seasonal pest inspection?

Seasonal pest inspections are different to a routine vessel inspection. For a seasonal pest inspection, a vessel’s ramp and doors must remain closed (except to allow access for government officials). Cargo must not be discharged until the inspection has been completed and approval is granted.

If live insects, or a significant number of dead insects are detected, a seasonal pest inspection will be supplemented with a dual action insecticide treatment. This will require the application of a residual insecticide and a thermal pyrethrum fog.

Seasonal pest inspections will only be conducted between 5:30 am and 10:00 pm local time and will not commence after 7:00 pm.

Entomology services will be available to support inspection activities between 8:30 am and 10:00 pm (AEST) weekdays and between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm (AEST) on weekends. Where insect specimens are collected outside of these times, assessment of the biosecurity risk may be delayed.

What is the Vessel Seasonal Pest Scheme?

Shipping lines responsible for Ro-Ro vessels arriving in Australia during BMSB season can apply for the VSPS. The VSPS offers shipping lines a reduction in seasonal pest inspections where vessels demonstrate biosecurity risk measures are acceptably managed.

To qualify for the VSPS, a vessel operator (shipping line) must submit a VSPS Biosecurity Risk Plan to the department ( for assessment and agreement. The plan must include:

  1. Vessel names and IMOs to be included and their key responsible parties.
  2. Mandatory cleaning prior to loading and commencement of each separate voyage to Australia.
  3. Mandatory Crew Vessel Inspections throughout each individual voyage to Australia.
    1. All participating vessels must undertake crew vessel inspections and record details on the required template. Inspections must be conducted:
      1. 48 hours after vessel departs each international region (ie. Europe, Africa, Asia) en-route to Australia
      2. The seven (7) days prior to first port of arrival in Australia.
    2. If further inspections or detections are made in addition to the above (e.g. after any fogging treatments carried out en route), the details of any live or dead insects found must also be provided on the required template.
    3. Provide clear high quality photos of all insects found.
    4. All insects must be refrigerated (NOT stored in the freezer) and presented to a Biosecurity Officer on arrival in Australia.
    5. The crew vessel inspection reports and photos must be returned with the SP questionnaire to the National Maritime Centre (NMC). It is recommended to do this early to avoid delays.
      Note: Vessels that visit New Zealand (NZ) prior to arriving to Australia, must also submit the crew vessel inspection report that was provided to the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to the NMC.
  4. Other measures that will be undertaken prior to and during the voyage to reduce the likelihood of vessel insect contamination while berthed at overseas ports, on-board cross-contamination to other cargo and to detect any infestations.
  5. Measures to be undertaken at anchorage to disrupt and/or treat any known infestations.
  6. Measures to be undertaken at berth in Australia to detect, monitor and contain any infestations.
  7. Measures to be undertaken, if required, onshore to manage any contaminated cargo at each anticipated port of arrival.
  8. Measures to be undertaken to improve the biosecurity risk awareness of crew members and their compliance with the agreed plan.
  9. The evidence that can and will be provided to the department on request.

Vessels that qualify for the VSPS, must for each separate voyage to Australia:

  1. Complete and submit a Pre-Arrival Report (PAR).
  2. Complete and submit an Seasonal Pest (SP) questionnaire, crew vessel inspection reports and images of any insects found.
  3. Have access to and have met the obligations of the approved onboard VSPS Biosecurity Risk Plan agreed by the department and the vessel’s operator.

On submission of the SP questionnaire and crew vessel inspection reports from each vessel, the department will:

  1. Assess the BMSB risk and aim to notify the vessel at least 24 hours prior to its scheduled arrival of berthing conditions and either:
    1. Permit the vessel to commence immediate operations including the discharge of cargo
    2. Permit the vessel to commence immediate operations including the discharge of cargo and direct the vessel to undergo inspection or other activities
    3. Direct the vessel to remain closed and prohibit goods from being discharged subject to inspection or other activities being completed, or
    4. Direct the vessel to remain at anchorage subject to further crew inspection or other activities being completed.
  2. Consider the use of a controlled discharge and onshore management of compliant cargo in accordance with the agreed VSPS Biosecurity Risk Plan where onboard detections of BMSB or other actionable exotic species are confirmed.

Download supporting documentation

Further information

For further information regarding BMSB seasonal measures, visit the Seasonal Measures for BMSB webpage or for policy questions email the seasonal Pest Policy team:

Last reviewed: 9 September 2021
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