Management of vessels during the 2020-21 Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) risk season

Latest update

  • 15 December: VSPS policy statement revised to clarify self inspection reporting requirements
  • New webpage published 25 August 2020: Management of vessels during the 2020-21 Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) risk season
  • 25 June 2020: Industry Advice Notice 98-2020 announced Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) seasonal measures
  • 4 Aug 2020: Kazakhstan added to the list of target risk countries
  • RoRo’s may now apply for the VSPS

Between 1 September 2020 and 31 May 2021, the department has seasonal measures for vessels to manage the risk of Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). The seasonal measures enable the department to:

  • Facilitate better management of BMSB risk offshore, at berth and onshore
  • Better assess a vessel’s BMSB risk prior to arrival
  • Improve the effectiveness and timeliness of mitigation activities
  • Reward shipping lines that take steps to manage the risk of BMSB on board vessels.

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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 transship in target risk countries from 1 September 2020 and that arrive in Australian territory by 31 May 2021 (inclusive).

The list of target risk countries for the BMSB risk season is available on our 2020-21 Seasonal measures for Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) webpage.

What are the 2020-21 seasonal measures for vessels?

Vessel surveillance for specified vessel types

RoRo vessels from all countries of origin will be provided with a seasonal pest questionnaire as part of their pre-arrival reporting.

RoRo vessels that have berthed at, loaded or transhipped cargo from target risk countries will be directed to perform a self-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 self-inspection.

Mandated seasonal pest inspections for RoRo vessels from target risk countries

RoRo vessels that berth at, load or transship in target risk countries will be subject to a mandatory seasonal pest inspections on arrival in Australia.

RoRo vessels will only be exempt from mandatory seasonal pest inspections when they can demonstrate that all cargo has:

  • Been treated by a BMSB approved method, or;
  • Is covered by an approved Safeguarding Arrangement, or;
  • Complies with New, Unused and Not Field Tested (NUFT) criteria,
  • No insects have been detected on board.

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 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.

RoRo vessel masters are required to confirm that a self-inspection of their vessel has been completed by crew members 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. Self-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 RoRo 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, whether it has been fogged during its current voyage, and the results of any self-inspections.

All RoRo vessels will be required to perform at least one self-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 insects found, where they were found (e.g. the deck/location), and whether they were alive or dead.

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 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 5:30 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 RORO 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.

The Vessel Seasonal Pest Scheme (VSPS) offers a specific response for RoRo vessels that can demonstrate continued compliance with eligibility criteria.

To qualify for the VSPS a vessel operator (shipping line) must submit to the department (email: for assessment an on board VSPS Biosecurity Risk Plan that:

  1. Identifies vessels to be included and their key responsible parties
  2. Requires:
    1. All participating vessels to undertake cleaning prior to loading and commencement of each separate voyage to Australia.
    2. Measures undertaken prior to loading or on board to minimise contamination/infestation.
    3. Measures to be undertaken at anchorage to disrupt and treat any known infestations.
    4. Measures to be undertaken at berth to detect, monitor and contain any infestations.
    5. Measures to be undertaken, if required, onshore to manage any contaminated cargo at each anticipated port of arrival.
  3. Outlines other measures that will be undertaken to reduce the likelihood of on board cross-contamination and to detect any infestations, for example on route trapping, activities undertaken prior to loading to minimise contamination (e.g. treatment of all cargo by a BMSB approved method), segregation of cargo and/or decks, treatment of vessel by an approved BMSB method after loading, and/or on route fogging with a residual fumigant.
  4. Outlines other measures that will be undertaken to improve the biosecurity risk awareness of crew members; and their compliance with the agreed plan.
  5. Outlines the evidence that can and will be provided to the department on request.
  6. All participating vessels to undertake self-inspection reporting that includes one of two reporting options:
    Option 1
    1. Self-inspection report 48 hours after the vessel has departed every international region/continent en-route to Australia e.g. Leaving the USA, leaving Asia.
    2. Daily self-inspection reports commencing seven (7) days prior to first port of arrival in Australia.
    3. Submission of daily self-inspection reports 96 hours (e.g. 4 days) submitted to the Maritime National Coordination Centre (MNCC) before arrival in Australia.
    Option 2
    1. Daily self inspection report for each day of the full voyage, each day after the vessel has departed the last international port en-route to Australia.
    2. Submission of the entire report (every daily inspection report) to the Maritime National Coordination Centre (MNCC) 96-12 hours before arrival in Australia.

Note: If a vessel visited New Zealand (NZ) prior to arriving to Australia, the vessel must also submit the 7 day self inspection report that was provided to the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to the MNCC.  

To be eligible for the VSPS, each vessel, for each separate voyage to Australia, must:

  1. Provide, at the time of submitting their pre-arrival report, information relating to the risk status of loaded cargo, e.g. confirming whether cargo has been treated, is covered by a Safeguarding Arrangement, or is compliant with New, Unused and Not Field Tested (NUFT) BMSB requirements, and;
  2. Have met the obligations of the on board VSPS Biosecurity Risk Plan agreed by the department and the vessel’s operator, and;
  3. Have access to the VSPS Biosecurity Risk Plan agreed by the department and the vessel’s operator for the management of the cargo and vessel in the event that an infestation is detected.

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: 15 December 2020
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