All vessels entering Australian territory from international waters pose a potential biosecurity risk. Routine vessel inspections (RVIs) are undertaken by a department biosecurity officer to ensure that biosecurity risks are identified and treated accordingly.
Some of the risks associated with international vessels include:
- deaths or illness of passengers or crew occurring in transit
- disembarking crew or passengers
- animals on board (ships pets or hitchhiking animals)
- plants on board
- ballast water management
- biosecurity risk material
- the presence of rodents or insects like the Asian gypsy moth or khapra beetle
- waste management.
A vessel's risk level is determined by an assessment of the vessel's past inspection history and the information provided to the department in pre-arrival reporting by the vessel’s master or agent.
An RVI includes the inspection of all galleys, pantries, provision stores, management of the vessel's waste facilities, ballast water verification, cabins and inspection of any other areas of the vessel as required, or as deemed appropriate by the biosecurity officer.
Vessels that have a history of poor sanitation are deemed high risk and as such require an increased level of inspection, including areas such as the incinerator, workshops, upper deck storerooms, steerage areas. Some vessels have additional reporting requirements.