New risk assessment tool to safeguard WA’s marine environment against invasive species

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The Western Australian Government has announced a new risk assessment tool for use by managers of commercial, non-trading, petroleum and commercial fishing vessels coming into WA ports to help the shipping and boating industry protect the State’s marine environment from invasive marine pests.

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Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said the Vessel Check online tool was a welcome initiative to help prevent the introduction of invasive marine species from international and interstate vessels headed for WA’s ports.

“Vessels are the primary way marine pests are moved to new areas, and the shipping industry and resources sector, together with the Department of Fisheries, identified the need a couple of years ago for a standardised tool to help vessel managers reduce the risk of moving pests into WA in biofouling,” Mr Baston said.

“Users of Vessel Check can test different scenarios for their vessel, so they can see how different management actions affect their vessel’s risk.”

The Minister said the developers of the risk assessment tool took into account the input of a wide range of stakeholders.

“Following a pilot trial, 30 submissions were received from industry consultants, inspectors, industry users, port authorities and government agencies, with feedback incorporated into the final version of Vessel Check. The tool has also been validated against a range of ‘real world’ vessels,” Mr Baston said.

“Western Australia is benefitting from industry and other stakeholders, who’ve shown a strong commitment to best practice in managing vessels to protect our State’s aquatic environment and supporting this voluntary tool. With Vessel Check, WA is leading the way in managing the potential risks from biofouling that, unlike ballast water, is not regulated in a consistent manner around Australia.”