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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
A diver surveying the hull of a large vessel

A biosecurity research scientist diving on a vessel near Ashmore Reef.

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Biosecurity sweep of marine pest pathway

Our aquatic biosecurity surveillance team voyaged to Ashmore Reef – 330 nautical miles north of Broome – to monitor the area for introduced marine pests.

The proximity to northern neighbouring countries and the level of international and domestic vessel traffic through the reef provides a potential pathway for introduced marine pests to enter and establish in Australian waters.

The team was engaged by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to conduct the surveillance operation on account of our recognised expertise and leading aquatic biosecurity surveillance program.

Spending three days at Ashmore Reef, the team inspected moorings, wrecks and other infrastructure, as well as collected water samples from across the atoll for eDNA (environmental DNA) molecular analysis, to determine if any introduced marine pests were present.

This molecular analysis of the water aims to detect the DNA footprint potentially left by marine pests – such as DNA of planktonic larvae or that shed by larger organisms – without having to observe the pests themselves. 

Several samples were taken for formal identification, however, none of the 55 target species were visually observed, although the eDNA results are still pending.

Last modified: 19/06/2018 11:40 AM

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