​Media Release

Underwater drones dive deep for biosecurity

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud
Senator for Tasmania, Steve Martin


5 April 2019​

  • $200,000 for marine pest surveillance trial in Tasmania
  • Underwater drones will include high resolution video cameras, live streaming, sonar and sample collection devices.

​A fleet of radio-controlled mini submarines is on guard for biosecurity threats in Tasmania's waters thanks to a $200,000 investment from the Coalition Government.

​Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the Nationals in Government had funded the underwater drone trial.

"Surveillance stops pests that could devastate Australian fisheries," Minister Littleproud said.

"Marine pests can hitch a ride on the hulls of boats or in ballast water and once they're on the move, they can be hard to track down.

"The new Modified Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVs) will be operated by a pilot on the surface.

"They are a small, manoeuvrable and a safe tool which works alongside other surveillance.

"They can quickly detect pests so we can exterminate them.                                                                                                                                                                       

"Cutting-edge technology like this helps our waters and aquatic industries safe from invading pests and diseases."

​Tasmanian Nationals Senator Steve Martin said he'd had numerous discussions with Nationals Ag Minister Littleproud about Tasmanian primary industries and this was another example of the Nationals' commitment to Tasmanian biosecurity.

"While the biggest threat to Tassie's reputation as the producer of the world's best and cleanest food comes from unnecessary fruit imports by the big supermarkets, marine biosecurity is important too, and this is a clever way to tackle it," Senator Martin said.

"Last year's Queensland Fruit Fly incursion proved how important it is for regional Tasmanian jobs and prosperity to keep our island pest free."

Planning is underway to install a number of additional features in the ROVs, including high resolution video cameras, live streaming, sonar and sample collection devices.

More information on cutting edge developments in the biosecurity space can be found on The Seed.

Fast Facts

  • The trial will be managed by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
  • Australia has over 250 non-indigenous marine species and approximately 15 of them are recognised as invasive marine pests​