Marine pests

​​White spot disease has been detected in Queensland prawns. Find out about the response currently underway to contain and eradicate the disease.

Introduced marine pests are marine plants or animals that are not native to Australia but have been introduced by human activities such as shipping. They have the potential to significantly impact our marine industries and our environment.

Australia has over 250 introduced marine species. Fortunately most have little impact but some, including several crabs, mussels, seastars and seaweeds, have become aggressive pests in some locations.

Australia’s response to the marine pest threat

To protect our marine environment and industries, the Australian and state/territory governments, along with marine industries and marine scientists are implementing Australia's National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions (the National System).

The National System aims to prevent new marine pests arriving, guide responses when a new pest does arrive and minimise the spread and impact of pests already established in Australia.

The department's role in the fight against marine pests

The department provides national leadership in the development and implementation of the National System and is the lead agency in implementing Australian Government responsibilities under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity and the  National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement.

The department regulates the exchange of ballast water by internationally arriving vessels through the Australian ballast water management requirements. Ballast water exchange is internationally recognised as a major pathway for the global spread of marine pests and it is estimated that up to 30 per cent of the invasive marine species in Australia have arrived via ballast water.

For information on reporting requirements for vessels arriving in Australian waters, see Ballast Water.

The department also represents Australia at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on ballast water and biofouling matters.

Further information about marine pests

The marine pests website provides detailed information on Australia’s general and sector specific marine pest management measures, including:

Last reviewed: 27 January 2021
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