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Australia takes 'education-first' approach on biofoul compliance

This file photo shows a Viking ship alongside in Sydney. Viking Orion docked there Jan. 4
Australia routinely monitors for biofoul to prevent the introduction of potentially harmful non-native species and an official said Viking cooperated in the recent incident that kept its Orion from docking for a stretch of six days.

'The vessel was in communication with us to manage the biofoul and did the right thing in having the hull cleaned — there will be no fine,' a Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) spokesperson told Seatrade Cruise News in an email.

Biofouling is a common accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae or small animals on hulls. The management of biofoul is a common practice for all arriving international vessels, the spokesperson said.

He elaborated that DAFF recommends operators implement an effective biofouling management plan or clean all biofouling within 30 days prior to arriving in Australian territory or employ an alternative biofouling management method pre-approved by the department.

'Education-first' approach

From June 15, 2022 to Dec. 15, 2023 an 'education-first' approach is being taken to assist compliance, the spokesperson said.

However, he added that powers under the Biosecurity Act 2015 will continue to be used to manage any unacceptable risks associated with biofouling.

'Small amounts of biofoul' on Viking Orion

Concerning Viking Orion, on Dec. 24 DAFF was advised of the change of itinerary from Hobart to Adelaide for berthing and passenger clearance. On Dec. 28, the DAFF National Maritime Centre was notified of small amounts of biofoul on Viking Orion's hull and engaged the vessel agent and Marine Biosecurity Unit to comply with standard biofoul management procedures.

The ship was required to undergo hull cleaning to protect Australia's marine ecosystems.

As earlier reported, professional divers were engaged directly by Viking via its agent to clean the hull while at anchor outside Australian waters. During this time, Viking Orion was positioned outside Australian waters, approximately 12 nautical miles offshore from the Port of Adelaide.

Following this, Viking Orion was allowed to call Melbourne on Jan. 2 and resumed its schedule. The ship docked at Sydney today, according to AIS data.