Introduced Marine Pests (IMPs) pose a serious threat to marine biodiversity in Australia. There are many ways pests are introduced into the marine environment. The major vectors for IMPs are ballast water, ship fouling, accidental introductions due to mariculture and deliberate introduction. The focus of this paper is on the administrative and legislative response to the introduction of IMPs through ballast water. Historically, ballast water accounts for only 15-20 per cent of the invasive marine species found in Australia. Ballast water is, however, becoming the major threatening vector in the last two decades. The current ballast water legislative and administrative framework in Australia contains a number of gaps and overlaps because both the Commonwealth and the States and the Northern Territory have implemented their own regime to deal with the problem of IMPs in ballast water.
This article analyzes the effectiveness and scope of the current Commonwealth and State/Territory legislative and administrative regimes designed to prevent the introduction of introduced marine pests through ballast water in Australian waters. The paper examines the Constitutional framework that grants power to the Commonwealth and the States/Territory to regulate the marine environment and ballast water. The article concludes that the current ballast water framework is inadequate to deal with the increasing threat posed to Australia's marine environment by marine pests introduced by ballast water. A national ballast water management scheme needs to be developed in the longer term to provide and maintain a consistent standard for ballast water management throughout Australia.