Australia’s biofouling reporting system kicks in

18 month learning period, but operators of visiting ships required to report ahead of arrival. New hull cleaning requirements being developed

 New hull biofouling reporting rules have now kicked in for vessels arriving at Australian ports.

From June 15th vessels calling at ports around Australia need to respond to pre-arrival biofouling questions relating to new biofouling regulations that came into effect last year.


Operators of all vessels subject to biosecurity control 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 department’s Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS).


The department will use the information to target vessel interventions and to take necessary action when needed.


The Australian authorities make it clear that that they will intervene less with vessels that can demonstrate the implementation of a biofouling management plan and have cleaned a ship’s hull of any biofouling prior to entering Australian territory.


Operators may also deploy or implement alternative biofouling management methods providing they are pre-approved.


The new rules were agreed in November last year and are in line with the IMO guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling to minimise the transfer of alien species. There will be a period of introduction from 15th June 2022 to 25 December 2023 which will be seen as an educational period, but the Australian government has made it clear that the rules under the country’s biosecurity act will still apply to unacceptable risks.


Hull cleaning


Meanwhile Australia has developed draft standards for in-water cleaning, which when completed will specify minimum requirements for hull cleaning (using automated cleaning systems or divers) while in the country’s waters.


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.


Advice and guidelines are available to help you establish effective biofouling management practices on your vessel or in your industry:


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