​Media Release

Protecting Queensland against hitchhiking marine pests

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resource, David Littleproud
Member for Flynn, Ken O'Dowd MP

13 July 2018

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud visited the port town of Gladstone today to discuss the government's Marine Pest Plan and $313 million investment to strengthen Australia's biosecurity.

Strong borders are vital to ensuring the future of Australia's $60 billion agricultural industries, $3 billion fisheries sector and unique marine tourism, including the Great Barrier Reef.

Speaking from Central Queensland University (CQU) Mr Littleproud and Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, said working with industry and other experts was a key part of strengthening pest and disease defences.

"It is great to be able to show the Minister the great work CQU is doing around biosecurity pest monitoring," Mr O'Dowd said.

"The uni holds the second largest marine sample collection in Australia which is used to see changes in marine environment and pest incursions.

"Exotic underwater pests we want to keep out include the invasive Asian green mussel that can heavily foul man-made structures in ports after arriving by boat, as well as out-competing native species."

Minister Littleproud said work CQU is doing complements the Coalition's $313 million investment to strengthen Australia's biosecurity to protect Australia's marine life, farm industries and international trade.

"Marine pests are great hitchhikers and can get into Australia by catching a ride on ships or other vessels coming into Australia, big or small," Mr Littleproud said.

"The Coalition Government investment includes $25.2 million in smart new technology, including potential use of underwater drones to check for pests on the underside of ships.

"We have also set aside $35 million as a contingency funding, ready to go if we do face an incursion we need to stamp out.

"In 2015-16 alone the Port of Gladstone received 1,800 vessels. With exports on the rise thanks to our strong free trade agenda we must innovate to protect our marine environment from exotic pests."

The MarinePestPlan 2018–2023 was another key deliverable under the Coalition Government's $5 million commitment to review and strengthen national marine biosecurity.

The plan is looking at different ways pests make it to our shores, such as ballast water from ships, to ensure effective regulation. The MarinePestPlan 2018–2023 is available online at www.marinepests.gov.au

Fast facts

  • The newly allocated biosecurity funding and Budget measures total $313 million in new spending over five years.
  • Total funding for biosecurity in 2018-19 will be $773.2 million – an increase of 28.1 per cent, or $169.8 million, since 2012-13.
  • The Coalition Government has invested more than $8.5 million on marine biosecurity since 2013, including:
    • $5 million to develop and implement the review of National Marine Pest Biosecurity
    • more than $2 million through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to improve diagnostics and surveillance for marine pests in Australia and the Indian Ocean Territories with $1 million of this funding invested to improve the capacity and capability of aquatic biosecurity surveillance across northern Australia – with further investments coming in 2018-19.
    • an additional $1.5 million to strengthen scientific capability and surveillance for aquatic animal diseases, as well as supporting capacity building projects for our near neighbours and trading partners.
  • MarinePestPlan 2018–2023 has been developed jointly by the Australian Government, state and territory governments, industry, research organisations, and non-government organisations.