skip to content
Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Vessel Check

Effective vessel management of marine biofouling may not only prevent the introduction and spread of live non-endemic or noxious fish including introduced marine species (IMS) to Western Australia, but also provides considerable economic benefits to the vessel, including:

  • increased vessel performance and speed,
  • reduced day-to-day running costs (lower fuel consumption),
  • reduced maintenance costs,
  • extended life of vessel and gear.

To assist vessel managers with effective vessel management for biosecurity purposes , the use of the Vessel-Check portal is recommended.  Vessel check is a biosecurity decision support tool developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and implemented into a user-friendly portal through collaboration with DHI Water and Environment (Australia).

(note: clicking on Vessel-Check takes you to the vessel management tool hosted on an external website - 

About Vessel-Check

Vessel-Check’ is designed to increase awareness and education on the control and management of vessels’ biofouling and mitigate the potential transfer of IMS. Additionally, the Vessel-Check Portal provides a risk-based assessment of vessels current management to better inform any IMS risk interventions. Vessel-Check’s risk assessment approach was developed by the Aquatic Pest Biosecurity Section of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and implemented into a user-friendly portal through collaboration with DHI Water and Environment (Australia).

Vessel-Check aids in identifying any pre-border vessel management actions and processes which can mitigate the risk of vessels transferring IMS to ‘as low as reasonably practicable’ (ALARP).

Maintaining your vessel risk to ALARP and registering it through the Vessel Check portal will reduce the likelihood of transferring live non-endemic or noxious fish (including IMS) into WA (which is contrary to the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 (FRMA)) and may also provide evidence to support a defence to any charge under this legislation.

Any vessels entering the State of WA may be subject to inspection by the Department’s compliance team.  Inspections may be in-water, or document-based, to check the vessel is not carrying any live non-endemic or noxious fish (including IMS) and remains compliant with the FRMA.

How does Vessel-Check work?

The Vessel-Check portal provides an indicative risk assessment for a vessel, based primarily on the documented management practices used to mitigate the transfer of IMS. It follows the ‘best practice’ set out by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) guidelines (Biofouling Guidelines). The Vessel-Check portal risk assessment is achieved through the following approach:

  1. The vessel company registers on the portal (free to register and use for vessels), and sets up appropriate users for a vessel operator/company (e.g. vessel operations managers/officers, vessel masters, vessel agents etc)
    1. A vessel user creates a vessel profile and uploads all biofouling management information specific for their vessel.
    2. A vessel profile documents biofouling management practices (captured in its biofouling manamgent plan), and characteristics of the vessel (e.g. is there an antifoulant coating etc). Refer to the IMO’s Biofouling Guidelines
  2. A vessel biofouling management profile is only created once, with the user only needing to update the vessel profile when relevant changes occur or when biofouling management actions are implemented for that vessel (e.g. recording that a scheduled clean has occurred in the record book section of the vessels profile)
  3. An indicative biofouling management risk of the vessel (based on the information provided in the vessels profile) is automatically calculated (using the DPIRD developed risk assessment) when the vessel designates a Western Australian port as its destination port (through its transponding Automatic Identification System (AIS), or manually through the Vessel-Check portal)
    1. Vessel users can download a risk report for their vessel which contains a summary of the vessel’s information, and a range of general management options that could aid in reducing the vessels biofouling risk status.
  4. DPIRD can also view the vessel’s information and any associated indicative risk report.  DPIRD is also notified of the vessels arrival into WA ports using an automated notification based on the AIS data. If deemed necessary by the DPIRD pro-active advice will be provided to vessels to ensure WA’s maintained aquatic biosecurity, as well as minimise impacts to a vessel operations.


It is then up to you as a vessel owner, agent or manager of a vessel to consider the actions suggested and decide which actions are most appropriate for your vessel to ensure potential biofouling risks are mitigated to ALARP. The Department will actively provide advice to vessels should they require more detailed information to manage potential biofouling risks prior to their arrival into WA state waters.

Who should use Vessel-Check?

Vessel-Check is intended for use by owners, operators, agents and managers of commercial vessels (which have a transponding AIS system) for all international and interstate vessel movements to Western Australia.
Future versions of Vessel-Check will have the ability for smaller commercial vessels and recreation vessels ( to conduct manual destination port nominations (non-AIS nominations). 
Meanwhile, please see the information on good vessel management on these web pages, or contact us for assistance. Through these developments and continuing the use of Vessel-Check we will aid in the control and management of biofouling, mitigate the potential transfer of IMS, and contribute to ensuring WA’s aquatic biosecurity.
Resource projects that are subject to ministerial conditions under the WA Environmental Protection Act 1986 should also continue to carry out risk assessments and management activities as specified in those conditions.

Why should I use Vessel Check?

The tool is designed to support a vessels ongoing effective management of vessel biofouling, encourage best practice (aligned with IMO Biofouling Guidelines), and may also provide evidence to support a defence to any charge under theFish Resources Management Act 1994 (FRMA).
Using the Vessel-Check Portal provides reassurance that the vessels management practices are adequate for the proposed voyage and that indicative vessel biofouling risk is ALARP. The Department will be able to review the indicative risk assessment and provide pro-active advice to ensure WA’s maintained aquatic biosecurity as well as minimised impacts to vessel operations.

When should I use Vessel Check?

Creating a vessel profile well in advance of your intended voyage to WA, will allow sufficient time to plan for and carry out management actions or to coincide with regular maintenance plans, should they be required.


We are committed to continuous improvement of the Vessel-Check Portal and your feedback is welcomed and will be considered for future developments. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with you to ensure WA’s aquatic biosecurity.
Contact our Aquatic Pest Biosecurity Section to provide feedback or to learn more about WA aquatic biosecurity.

Last modified: 16/03/2021 8:16 AM

© All contents copyright Government of Western Australia. All rights reserved. ABN: 18 951 343 745


© This work is copyright. You may display, print or reproduce this material only in an unaltered format for your personal or non-commercial use, or for use within your organisation. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved.


The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at