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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Biofouling management tools and guidelines

The potential for invasive marine species (IMS) transferred through biofouling to cause harm has been recognised by many international organisations. Vessel operators should comply with relevant policies, legislation and guidelines before travelling into and within the waters of Western Australia to keep the risk of transporting IMS to an acceptable (low) level.

The following tools and guidelines have been provided to help vessel managers control their own biofouling risk.

  • Vessel Check – an online risk assessment tool designed to help managers control the biofouling risk of commercial, non-trading, petroleum and commercial fishing vessels. It will help determine the risk of a vessel carrying IMS to WA and provide recommended management actions to reduce the vessel risk status. Use of this tool will also help vessel managers demonstrate that they have taken reasonable measures to minimise the chance of committing offences under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 (FRMA) and Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995 (FRMR).

Apart from those covered in Vessel Check, some other factors that can increase vessel risk include overloading so the waterline is above the antifouling coating line and inadequate in-water cleaning to remove marine pests or that damages the antifouling coating.

When planning each vessel movement into WA from interstate or overseas, we encourage carrying out risk assessments well in advance of departure. This is to allow time to plan for and carry out management actions, if required, or to coincide with regular maintenance plans.

  • Guidelines for recreational vessels – future versions of Vessel Check for yachts and rigs are being considered for development. Meanwhile, please see the national biofouling management guidelines for recreational vessels prepared as part of the National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions or contact us for assistance.
  • Good vessel maintenance brochure – this provides general advice on biofouling management and should be read in conjunction with Vessel Check. It also provides some guidance for managing biofouling on recreational vessels.
  • Biofouling management plan and record book – vessel managers can also demonstrate that they are taking reasonable measures to minimise the chance of committing offences by consistently using a biofouling management plan and record book that meet all requirements under Appendix 2 of the Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships’ Biofouling to Minimize the Transfer of Invasive Aquatic Species (2012 edition or as amended) published by the IMO.
  • In-water cleaning – The Department of Fisheries is the lead agency for aquatic biosecurity in Western Australia.  Its policies relating to in-water cleaning are currently under review.  For advice on in-water cleaning, please email
    NB – the Department’s Guidelines for the in-water treatment of vessels in Western Australian waters have been withdrawn.
  • Follow-up IMS inspections – vessels that have spent more than seven consecutive days in a single overseas or interstate location since the last IMS inspection (where no IMS were detected) or since antifouling coating was applied before arriving in WA, should have follow-up IMS inspections about 75 days after the IMS inspection or re-splash if they are still in WA. 
  • Western Australian Prevention List for Introduced Marine Pests – a list of IMS (sometimes known as ‘marine pests’) indicating how to report suspected or confirmed IMS on vessels or elsewhere in WA, which are noxious-listed, monitored during surveys and able to be identified using molecular means.
  • Report IMS – all listed pests and any other species that appear to have clear impacts or invasive characteristics must be reported on both suspicion and confirmation within 24 hours to the Department by contacting FishWatch on 1800 815 507. (Note: If you collect samples, please report it to FishWatch immediately.)

Designing IMS monitoring programs

Our standard advice for designers of introduced marine pest monitoring programs should be followed by designers developing programs for WA projects, subject to marine pest Ministerial Conditions under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

Ballast water

For national requirements for ballast water management, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture website.

Further information

For more information, see marine biosecurity legislation and policies or contact our Biosecurity Unit. ​

Last modified: 7/06/2022 12:53 PM

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