Media Release

​Strengthening Australia’s approach to managing marine pests

4 December 2015

The Coalition Government is strengthening the national approach to managing marine pests, and will begin implementing recommendations made in a comprehensive review into national marine pest biosecurity arrangements.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the review and recommendations were delivering on an important election commitment to protect our marine environment and resources. 

“It is a big step toward safeguarding Australia’s marine environment and protecting our valuable wild catch and aquaculture industries—worth about $2.3 billion a year to Australia’s economy,” Minister Joyce said. 

“While it’s important we facilitate our sea-based trade, we need to make sure we have strong plans and processes in place to manage the biosecurity risk posed by exotic marine pests and diseases.

“The report makes 13 recommendations that place new focus on prevention activities, better relationships between researchers, marine-based industries, government and the community, as well as stronger response arrangements for dealing with incursions.

“The government has accepted the recommendations presented in the report, and will now begin implementing them—and we’re already making progress.

“For example last month we participated in a New South Wales Department of Primary Industries led simulation exercise to test the effectiveness of both NSW and national arrangements in responding to marine pest detections. The outcomes will inform future national exercises.”

Minister Joyce said strong arrangements were vital to protecting our valuable fisheries industries from potentially devastating pests.

“Many communities around Australia rely on our precious marine environment for their food and livelihoods, so we need to make sure we have a modern and flexible approach to managing marine biosecurity threats,” Minister Joyce said. 

“Exotic marine pests are a complex and potentially damaging problem—over 250 exotic marine plants and animals have made their way to our shores, and while many may be harmless, some can seriously damage our marine industries and coastal infrastructure.

“That’s why we’ve reviewed our arrangements and have spoken to key people in the sector—the department held meetings, teleconferences and workshops with over 90 organisations, and considered 38 written submissions.

“This $5 million election commitment is a four-year project that aims to protect Australia’s marine environment and the industries and the communities that rely on it from exotic marine pests, and strengthens our management of these threats.

“We said before the election that we would deliver this review as part of our commitment to a sustainable and competitive fisheries sector—and we’ve delivered on that promise.

“This government’s focus has always been to protect and boost profits for our producers, and this is another clear example of that commitment.”

To read the report and recommendations, visit the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website at agriculture.gov.au/marinepestreview​.