Noxious Aquatic Species Permits Policy Statement

Noxious aquatic species (NAS) are declared under section 75 of the Fisheries Act 1995 (Fisheries Act).

A person must not bring into Victoria or take, hatch, keep, possess, sell, transport, put into any container or release into protected waters any NAS.

The species listed as NAS are only deemed 'noxious' if they are in live form. The offences under section 76 do not apply for dead NAS.

As the delegate of the Secretary, the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority may issue a permit to a person to bring into Victoria or take, hatch, keep, possess, sell transport, put into any container or release NAS.

In considering whether to issue a permit, the Secretary must have regard to the welfare of any relevant fishery or aquatic ecosystem.

The Secretary must not issue a permit if the Secretary considers that:

(a) the applicant does not satisfy the eligibility criteria;

(b) the issue would be inconsistent with the relevant management plan or if there is no relevant management plan, would be harmful to the welfare of any relevant fishery or aquatic ecosystem;

(c) the permit is sought for a purpose other than a scientific; research; fisheries management; aquaculture; to undertake a dredging operation authorised by a consent under the Coastal Management Act 1995 (Coastal Management Act) that may involve taking, possessing, transporting or releasing NAS; and the public display of NAS in a museum, zoo or aquarium.

The Secretary may refuse to issue a permit if the applicant has been convicted of an offence under the Fisheries Act, the Fisheries Act 1968, the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, the Vermin and Noxious Weeds Act 1958, the Wildlife Act 1975, the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 or a law of the Commonwealth or of another State or of a Territory that corresponds to any of those Acts.

A permit may be issued for a maximum of three years as determined by the Secretary and is not transferable.

The Secretary, by notice served on the permit holder, may revoke a NAS permit at any time.  Before revoking a permit, the Secretary must:

(a) give notice of the proposal to the permit holder, specifying:

  1. the grounds for the proposed revocation; and
  2. that the person may make written or oral submissions about the matter within 28 days after the date of service of the notice;

(b) consider any submissions made in accordance with the above paragraph. The decision to revoke a NAS permit is not a reviewable decision under section 137 of the Fisheries Act and therefore cannot be appealed.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria that an applicant for a noxious aquatic species permit must satisfy are:

In the opinion of the Secretary,

(a) the applicant is a fit and proper person to carry out the activities for which the permit is sought;

(b) the applicant has the competency and knowledge to undertake the activities for which the permit is sought; and

(c) the applicant will be the person directing the undertaking of the activities for which the permit is sought.

Guiding Principle

The guiding principle of this policy statement is:

  • The issue of NAS permits will be based on the level of risk posed by the proposed activity and whether the risks created by the activity can adequately be managed through permit conditions.

Where an application is made to stock NAS into 'protected waters', the Guidelines for the Translocation of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria (translocation guidelines) provides the administrative and regulatory framework for assessing the environmental risks of the proposed translocation of NAS. "Protected waters" includes all waters that are within the State including private tanks/aquaria whether or not on private property.

An assessment of risk will consider the characteristics of the species and the likelihood and consequence of the NAS being released into the wild.

Authorised Activities

In all instances below, collection of NAS from the wild is not permitted unless the collection is undertaken by an applicant who can demonstrate relevant qualifications or experience in species identification and biosecure management of NAS. High risk NAS will require greater levels of biosecurity, e.g. disinfection of catch bag/gear required immediately after collection.

Commercial harvest

The commercial harvest of NAS, including NAS broodstock for the purposes of aquaculture, may be authorised via a permit. Collection may involve the use of commercial fishing equipment.

Careful consideration will be given to the impacts of the proposed activity on the broader environment, the risk of translocation and the credentials of the proposed user of the commercial fishing equipment.

Aquaculture

An aquaculture licence is required for hatching, breeding, rearing and growing NAS in conjunction with a NAS permit. Aquaculture of NAS will be subject to a full risk assessment in accordance with the translocation guidelines. The facility and operation where live NAS are maintained must be biosecure, as determined by the risk assessment.

Within Victoria, the market for NAS product produced under authority of an aquaculture licence is limited to:

  • sale to public museums;
  • sale for the restaurant trade;
  • sale of NAS product (i.e. not live animals);
  • sale for research (undertaken by a recognised research institute); 
  • sale for education (undertaken by recognised education institute).

Farmers producing NAS will only be authorised to sell live animals to another NAS permit holder authorised to possess that NAS. Maintenance of an audit trail, including receipts for every sale and transaction of NAS, will be required.

The aquaculture of NAS will not be permitted for the purposes of sale for private display/use (i.e. ornamental trade) within Victoria.

Sale of live NAS outside of Victoria is permitted, subject to authorisation from the relevant jurisdiction.

Ornamental/private use

The possession of NAS for private ornamental display purposes is not permitted except under exceptional circumstances that will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Under such circumstances, authorisation will only be provided if the NAS is held in a secure area, and it can be demonstrated that the NAS was legally acquired.

Where permits are issued, they will be subject to strict conditions including that sale of the NAS is not permitted.

No live specimens are to leave the designated area on the permit.

Research

Permits may be issued for research purposes where the applicant is associated with a recognised research institute that supports the proposed research. In the case of research involving the aquaculture of NAS, sale of NAS product will require an aquaculture licence.

Sale of NAS product from research not involving aquaculture will not be permitted.

Public Display

The public display of NAS by a public museum, zoo or aquarium may be authorised by a NAS permit. Appropriate activities may include collection of NAS from the wild, provided the collection is undertaken by a skilled professional as described above.

No live specimens are to leave the designated area on the permit.

Education

Permits may be issued for education purposes, where the applicant represents a recognised public or private education institution.

Collection of live NAS from the wild must be undertaken by a skilled professional as described above and not students. A biosecure facility will be required.

No sale of NAS is permitted, and no live specimens are to leave the designated area on the permit.

Restaurant Trade

The trade of live NAS for the purposes of human consumption may be authorised under a NAS permit. Possession of live NAS will be restricted to fish wholesalers and restaurants/caterers. The final destination of the live NAS is restricted to restaurants/caterers. The NAS will need to be destroyed at the restaurant/caterer prior to sale to the public. If the NAS has not been sold and is no longer required, it must be
destroyed on-site.

Permit holders will only be able to buy from, and sell to, other NAS permit holders authorised to sell or receive that species. Interstate suppliers of NAS will also require a NAS permit from The Victorian Fisheries Authority.

Maintenance of an audit trail, including receipts for each sale and transaction, will be required.

Eradication programs

Permits may be issued for eradication of NAS from the wild, provided the applicant and those operating on behalf of the applicant, have the appropriate expertise in species identification and biosecure handling of NAS. The NAS must be immediately killed on-site and disposed of in accordance with the relevant legislation.

The use of commercial fishing equipment may be authorised if required, following consideration of the impacts of the proposed activity on the broader ecosystem and the credentials of the proposed user.

Dredging operations

On occasions, the incidental take and release of NAS may result from dredging operations. If the dredging operation does not pose  unacceptable risks, a permit may be issued, provided the operation is authorised under the Coastal Management Act.

Standard Conditions

The following are standard requirements for AS permits:

  • Biosecure holding facility and operations at all times. 
  • Disposal of water that comes into contact with the NAS must not pose a biosecurity risk. 
  • When no longer required, NAS must be uthanized and disposed of in ccordance with the relevant egislation.

Additional requirements may be included on ermits for particular activities.

Further information

Further information relating to this Policy Statement can be obtained by calling the Customer Service Centre on Ph: 136 186.