Every boat owner has a role to play in stopping the spread of marine pests. With regular boat maintenance, you can make sure marine pests are not hitching a ride with you!
What is a marine pest?
A marine pest is any marine species of plant or animal that lives outside its natural range, and negatively impacts on the native fauna and flora. Some well known pests in Victoria are the northern Pacific seastar, Japanese kelp (Undaria) and the sabella worm.
Why are they a problem?
Marine pests can:
- Damage your boat, increase fuel consumption and maintenance costs
- Deplete native fish stocks
- Destroy native marine habitats
- Release toxins and spread diseases that can harm humans and marine life
- Result in boating, anchoring and fishing restriction zones.
How are they spread?
Pests can be transported by any vessel – yachts, powerboats, ships, fishing boats, jet skis and even canoes.
Port Phillip Bay already has many marine pests due to its longstanding role as a shipping port. Pests have been carried into the Bay in ballast water or as fouling on ships hulls. The shipping industry is now heavily regulated to ensure that ships don’t continue to carry pests into Victoria.
The rest of Victoria's coast has relatively few pests. There is a great risk that recreational boats will carry pests from the Bay into pristine, pest free locations.
Pests can easily be spread by 'hitching' a ride on your boat:
Fouling on the hull
Tangled in anchors, nets and gear
Carried in plumbing systems, buckets and bilge water.
What can you do?
Check and clean your boat and gear before and after every trip. Remove any weeds, sediment, water or animals, and put them in the bin. Rinse your boat and gear with freshwater, and make sure everything is dry before you set off on your next trip. Choosing the correct antifouling paint for moored boats is also very important. The BIA is currently developing guidelines to show you the best way to clean your boat.