A NSW Government website

Aquatic biosecurity legislation

Biosecurity Act 2015

From 1 July 2017, the Biosecurity Act 2015 was enacted to manage biosecurity risks in NSW. The Act is underpinned by the principle of biosecurity as a shared responsibility highlighting the importance of government, industry and the community working together to identify, prevent, eradicate, minimise, respond to and manage biosecurity risks.

The Biosecurity Act 2015 provides a framework to support risk-based management and efficient response to biosecurity risks.

Useful Links

DPI Biosecurity Legislation lists all relevant acts and instruments to managing biosecurity in NSW as well as handy factsheets for specific industries and interest groups.

Under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 the NSW DPI Fisheries Office may put in force fishing closures, restrictions and permits to protect our aquatic resources.

Your general biosecurity duty

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 there is a general obligation on people to be aware of their surroundings and take action to prevent the introduction and spread of pests, diseases, weeds and contaminants. Read about the general biosecurity duty.

When you are using the NSW waterways for fishing or other activities, you have a responsibility for managing biosecurity risks that you know about or could be reasonably expected to know about. You are not expected to know about all biosecurity risks, but you are expected to know about risks associated with your industry, business, day-to-day work and hobbies.

There are measures you can take to meet your general biosecurity duty as:

  • Recreational boat users and fishers
  • Commercial fishers
  • Aquaculture farmers
  • Aquarium enthusiasts

Prohibited and Notifiable matter

Prohibited Matter

Prohibited matter is high risk matter we do not want in NSW and is not established in NSW, although we may occasionally have infestations that are quickly eradicated. Examples of prohibited matter include Abalone viral ganglioneuritis, white spot disease of crustaceans, Asian paddle crab and various marine and freshwater finfish. A full list is contained in Schedule 2 of the Biosecurity Act.

Notification obligations apply with respect to prohibited matter. It is also an offence to deal with prohibited matter.

Notifiable matter

In addition to Prohibited Matter, Schedule 1 of the Biosecurity Regulation 2017 lists several species and diseases as Notifiable Matter. It is illegal in NSW to possess, sell or move species listed as Notifiable Matter. A person has a duty to notify an Authorised officer if they suspect the presence of any of these pests or diseases. Examples of notifiable matter include Tilapia, Redfin Perch and QX disease of oysters.

Useful links

Biosecurity management

The NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 and associated regulations provide several controls to help manage aquatic pests and diseases, including:

Biosecurity Regulation 2017

The Biosecurity Regulation 2017 made under the Biosecurity Act specifies actions that must be taken to prevent, eliminate or minimise biosecurity risks posed or likely to be posed in relation to biosecurity matter, carriers or dealings. These are known as mandatory measures.

Where a mandatory measure applies to a dealing or activity then the relevant person must comply with those measures, regardless of whether they know or reasonably should know about the risks posed or likely to be posed. In most cases, if a person complies with the relevant mandatory measures, they will have discharged their general biosecurity duty.

Control orders

A control order is an order made by the Minister (or delegate) that establishes one or more zones to prevent, eliminate, minimise or otherwise manage a biosecurity risk or biosecurity impact.

A control order can be made quickly so that a timely response can be mounted to a biosecurity risk or impact that does not require an emergency response, or while longer term management arrangements are being developed.

A control order can remain in place for up to five years. If longer term management is required, a biosecurity zone may be established.

For a detailed summary on control orders see the DPI Control Order Fact Sheet (PDF, 128.95 KB).

Biosecurity zones

A biosecurity zone is established for long term management of key ongoing biosecurity risks.

Biosecurity zones are generally applied to a specified part, or parts of NSW and specify certain actions that must be taken within that geographic area. See DPI Biosecurity Zone Fact Sheet (PDF, 127.18 KB) for further general information.

Currently biosecurity zones are in place to manage QX disease and POMS in oysters.

Emergency response provisions

Emergency Orders

During a biosecurity emergency, the Secretary can respond to that emergency with an Emergency Order. The objectives of these orders are to prevent the spread of the biosecurity matter, isolate a zone where the biosecurity matter may be, or where practicable, to eradicate the biosecurity matter. These objectives do not limit what may be provided for by an Emergency Order.

See DPI Emergency Order Factsheet for more information.

Emergency Response

If a significant new pest or disease issue is identified in NSW, DPI can mobilise emergency response arrangements to investigate and, where appropriate, respond to the incident. See Emergency Management for more information about DPI’s role in responses.

Emergency Planning and Response

DPI participates in a number of national forums on the prevention, management and emergency response to aquatic pests and diseases. These include :