Minimise the spread of marine pests

Exotic marine pests are invading Queensland waters by attaching to boat hulls and travelling in ships’ ballast water.

Serious pests, such as Asian green musselsAsian bag mussels and black-striped false mussels, have already been detected in northern Australia.

To minimise impacts, we need to:

  • prevent new pests being introduced
  • detect and respond to any pest incursions
  • contain pests that are already established.

Seven invasive pest species with the highest chance of arriving and establishing in Queensland waters have been identified:

Look. Report. Protect.

Everyone can do their bit to report suspected marine pests and respond quickly before they spread.

If you see a suspected marine pest, follow these steps:

Take a photo of the suspected marine pest

Collect a sample if it is safe to do so. Biosecurity Queensland can advise on how to collect, pack and send samples. As a general rule:

  • place the sample in a plastic container or bag such as a sandwich zip lock bag
  • store the sample in the refrigerator or keep it on ice (do not freeze)
  • contact Biosecurity Queensland about how to package the sample and where to send it for identification

Report it by contacting Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or email

Cost of marine pests to boat owners

Marine pests:

  • damage the paint and hull where they attach
  • increase drag and therefore fuel costs
  • clog pipes, motors and propellers causing the engine to overheat.

Harmful effects of marine pests on the environment, industry and human health

Marine pests can:

  • exclude and prey on native species, damage their habitats and spread disease
  • reduce the productivity of aquaculture and commercial and recreational fisheries.What can you do to prevent the spread of marine pests?

A pest incursion can also cause fishing bans and boating restrictions as authorities try to contain the pest.

What can you do to prevent the spread of marine pests?

You can also help by finding out more about the marine animals and plants in Queensland, and by reporting sightings of these pests to our customer service centre on 13 25 23.

By keeping your boat and gear clean you can help to prevent the spread of these pests.

Keeping moored boats free of marine pests

Follow these steps to keep you moored boat free of invasive marine species:

  • slip and clean your boat at least every year and anytime there is a build-up of fouling. (Fouling is a build-up of small marine organisms, such as barnacles, that become encrusted on boat hulls, propellers, anchors, cables, tenders etc.)
  • Check your boat for fouling every month.
  • Select an anti-fouling paint suited to your boat’s activity and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Renew it when persistent fouling occurs.
  • Treat internal seawater systems regularly by flushing with freshwater or any other approved treatment.
  • Use an approved pump-out facility to dispose of your sewage and bilge water as these could contain marine pests, their eggs or plant spores.

Keeping trailer boats, canoes, kayaks and jet skis free of marine pests

Follow these steps to keep you boat and gear free of invasive marine species:

  • Use a bin when removing any weeds, animals, water or sediment from your boat, trailer or gear. DO NOT put them back in the water.
  • Rinse your boat, trailer and gear with fresh water after every trip.
  • Drain all the water from your boat and equipment onto land rather than back into the sea.
  • Dry your boat and gear thoroughly, including ropes and anchors, as tiny eggs and plant spores can survive in damp areas for months.
  • Don’t dump your live tank water overboard as it could contain pest animal larvae. Dispose of it at the boat ramp.

For more information contact our customer service centre or visit Biosecurity Queensland.