Aquatic biosecurity

What is biosecurity?

Aquatic biosecurity is all about protecting the economy, human health and the environment from problems associated with aquatic pests, diseases and saltwater weeds.

Introduced pests and diseases pose environmental, social and economic threats by damaging the natural balance of aquatic flora and fauna.

Recreational and commercial fishers, fish farmers and ornamental fish enthusiasts all have a responsibility for managing biosecurity risks that they know about, or could reasonably be expected to know about. Examples in which you can discharge your general biosecurity duty include:

  • REPORT sightings of suspected aquatic pests and disease to the NSW DPI
    • Recreational and commercial fishers may be the first to notice a disease, a fish kill or a new pest species, and rapid reporting to DPI can help minimise the impacts of the establishment of a new pest or disease.
  • Make ‘clean’ part of your routine! Recreational fishers and boaters can help to reduce the spread of pests and diseases by ensuring their boat and gear are clean before moving to another waterway. REPORT any observations of sick or unwell fish in production to NSW DPI.
    • Fish farmers should always be on the look-out for biosecurity problems that can affect their business, their industry, as well as natural habitats.
    • Ornamental fish enthusiasts need to be scrupulous in managing the health of their fish, and preventing any diseases or potential pest species from spreading to other collections or even into the wild. If for any reason you can’t look after your fish tank any longer, please don't dump that fish! Released ornamentals can establish as pests and have major impacts on our native species and environment.

Responsibility for the prevention and management of aquatic pests and diseases is shared between several State and Commonwealth government agencies. NSW DPI has responsibilities for the conservation and management of the fish and marine vegetation of NSW, and this includes the management of pest species and diseases.

NSW DPI will manage the risks posed to economy, community and environment of NSW by declared and emergent infectious and transmissible aquatic disease agents, freshwater fish pests and marine pests.

The NSW DPI Aquatic Biosecurity group works closely with industry, other agencies and the community to manage all types of aquatic biosecurity risks.

To report a fish kill in wild fish or shellfish, phone your local/regional NSW DPI Fisheries Office. If your call is not answered please leave your name and contact number and call the 24 hour fish kill hotline.

For more information relating to the procedures for reporting fish-kills, see Reporting aquatic pests and diseases.

To report a suspected aquatic disease event or unexplained mortality in cultured fish or shellfish (including oyster mortalities), phone either:

  • your local/regional NSW DPI Fisheries Office, and ask to speak to a Fisheries Officer
  • 24 hour Fishers Watch hotline 1800 043 536 for reporting fish-kill events
  • Aquatic Biosecurity & Risk Management (02) 4982 1232

and guidance will be given in submission of samples to the laboratory.

For more information relating to the procedures for reporting aquatic diseases see Reporting aquatic pests and diseases.

To report a suspected aquatic pest:

For more information relating to the procedures for reporting aquatic pests see Reporting aquatic pests and diseases.

For more detailed information about saltwater weeds and aquatic pests and diseases of fish and shellfish, see the Aquatic pests and diseases page.

You may also be interested in ...

  • Freshwater weeds (e.g. salvinia, alligator weed, water hyacinth) - see Weeds.