The Australian Government's Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has announced that new requirements for managing biofouling on international vessels arriving in Australia will begin on 15 June 2022.
Biofouling occurs when organisms attach and grow on the submerged parts of a vessel like the hull, propellers, anchors, niche areas and fishing gear. Vessel biofouling and a ship’s ballast water are major pathways for the introduction of foreign marine species into Australian waters. Once introduced they can spread, threaten healthy marine habitats, and have adverse economic and health effects
The biofouling requirements
The Australian biofouling management requirements provide guidance on how vessel operators should manage biofouling when operating within Australian seas in order to comply with the Biosecurity Act 2015.
The jurisdiction of Australia and external territories extends off the Australian coast to 12 Nautical Miles (NM). All international vessels, including barges and dredges, that are sailed, motored or towed through the 12NM limit and enter Australian territory are subject to pre-arrival reporting, pratique, assessment and inspection at a first point of entry on arrival.
Operators of such vessels will be required to provide information on how biofouling has been managed prior to arriving in Australian territorial seas. This information will need to be reported through the Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS).
Vessel operators will receive less intervention for biofouling if they comply with one of the following three accepted biofouling management practices:
- Implementation of an effective biofouling management plan; or
- Cleaned all biofouling within 30 days prior to arriving in Australian territory; or
- Implementation of an alternative biofouling management method pre-approved by the department.
A vessel operator that has not applied one of these management practices will be subject to further questions and assessment of the biosecurity risk.
The new policy approach was approved on 30 November 2021 by the Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia and is consistent with the direction of the International Maritime Organization’s 2011 Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships’ biofouling to Minimize the Transfer of Invasive Aquatic Species.
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