September 2018
Issue #1


Dr Sam Allan, Executive Manager Emergency Preparedness and Response


Hello and welcome to Animal Health Australia’s (AHA) first edition of the Aquatic Update.


This bi-monthly newsletter will bring you a first-hand insight into AHA as Custodian of the Aquatic Deed, progress of the Deed negotiations and significant activities from within the aquaculture space.


AHA is a member-funded organisation that is the trusted national coordinator, brokering arrangements for government and industry partnerships and collaborations to strengthen animal health and biosecurity in Australia. AHA has been engaging with the aquatic industry for a number of years now, with the National Aquaculture Council already an Associate Member. AHA has expertise within the aquatic space, with some of our staff having worked in or with the industry for a number of years. Find out more about what we do by watching this video.


Over the coming months AHA will be developing more resources relating to the aquatic industries including an Aquatic Services website, video series, a quarterly Northern Australia Aquatic Biosecurity newsletter and communications materials. Currently a number of fact sheets have been developed in conjunction with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) for your use relating to:
a general overview of the Aquatic Deed
AHA as Custodian of the Deed
risk mitigation and cost sharing.

Please let us know if there are other fact sheets or materials which you would find useful by emailing us at


If you know someone who would like to subscribe, feel free to forward this email to them or direct them to


I hope you enjoy reading this Aquatic Deed Update.


AHA as Custodian of the Aquatic Deed




In October 2014, AHA agreed to manage a new, DAWR funded, four year project dedicated to the development of a formal industry-government aquatic emergency animal disease (EAD) response agreement – the Aquatic Deed.

Once the Aquatic Deed is finalised and endorsed by relevant aquatic industry and government parties, the Deed becomes a legally binding document and is maintained by the Custodian in consultation with all parties. AHA will be the Custodian of the Aquatic Deed once it is endorsed. All prospective parties to the Deed must become members of the Custodian – AHA, and formally sign the Deed.


Why has AHA been chosen to be the Custodian of the new Deed?

AHA is recognised internationally for our proven ability to facilitate government and industry partnerships to successfully deliver a world-class system for the management of livestock biosecurity risks. AHA is well placed to build and maintain trusting relationships with all signatories to the Aquatic Deed.

AHA currently successfully manages the following national projects:

  • the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) for terrestrial animals
  • the Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN)
  • EAD training programs for both government and industry personnel
  • on-farm biosecurity programs and extension services
  • surveillance programs.

Additionally, AHA provides response capacity and capability training to EADRA signatories and is experienced in delivery of regular communications for industry and government parties both during non-outbreak times (peacetime communications) and during EAD events. The skills and expertise AHA has in these projects will be immediately utilised in the role of Custodian of the Aquatic Deed for the benefit of the aquatic industries and governments.


Why do we need an Aquatic Deed?

While Australia has long-standing joint industry-government arrangements in place for responses to livestock EADs and emergency plant pests and diseases, until now, there’s been nothing formally in place for responding to EAD outbreaks affecting aquatic animals and the industries that rely on them. Disease outbreaks occur regularly, spread rapidly through water and can cause major impacts on aquaculture, fisheries, aquatic resources and the environment.


What will the Aquatic Deed do for the industry?

Having an Aquatic Deed in place will reduce the likelihood of aquatic EAD incidents occurring in the first place through enhanced biosecurity standards at all levels of industry. It will also reduce impacts of aquatic EADs when they do occur through early, effective responses resulting in improved ability to eradicate or contain them quickly.

The Deed also provides certainty about funding and decision making arrangements during aquatic EAD incidents, including reimbursement for specified costs to businesses that are directly affected by an aquatic EAD. Signatories to the aquatic deed will have a voice in the national negotiations to decide how an aquatic EAD response will proceed.


Aquatic engagement




AHA’s Aquatic Biosecurity Liaison Officer, Helen Jenkins, has been out and about across the country this year organizing and attending a number of aquatic related events.

  • Six Aquatic Biosecurity Awareness workshops were hosted across Northern Australia during April and May thanks to the support of the Future Fisheries Services, the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy and industry, government agencies and researchers.
  • In conjunction with Livestock and Plant Liaison Officers, Helen attended the 2018 Food Futures Conference in Darwin where she presented during the event and also attended a field trip to a local barramundi and marron farm.
  • Helen organised a booth at the Australian Prawn Farmers Association Symposium at the Gold Coast in August where she engaged with members of the industry to raise awareness of AHA’s role as custodian. AHA sponsored a workshop delivered by Dr Matt Landos about Prawn Farm Biosecurity for Technicians.

Upcoming Events

AHA will be attending or presenting at the following events:

We love getting out and meeting the people who make the industry what it is. If you’d like us to come out and speak at your conference or event email us at


Queensland Engagement Trip


It is timely for AHA to take opportunities to meet and visit with aquatic farms to gain understanding of their operations, engage with the people and hear about their challenges. 

In September, Sam and Helen ventured to far north Queensland to meet with some people working in the industry.


Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture


The first visit was with Jordan, General Manager of the Mossman farm (top image) and were viewing prawns around the 60 day old mark. Currently, this is the northern most prawn farm in Australia and recently doubled in size with new ponds about to be filled over the coming month and further expansions planned for the future.


Biosecurity was strongly in place, with signs strategically placed around water intake areas warning fishers not to use seafood for human consumption as bait.


Daintree Salt Water Barramundi Fish Farms / Hook A Barra


The next farm was located in the Daintree area, and was with Mark Hober, Farm Manager. We are thankful for the time Mark took out of his busy schedule of harvesting to talk to us about the challenges of expansion and farming in a remote part of far north Queensland. In a rare treat, we were able to see barramundi being harvested whilst there (bottom image), the pristine farm, ponds and methods used - it's easy to see why there's never complaints about the quality of fish he sells!


Mark displayed a lot of passion for his farm and the fish he grows. Passing tourists can pay to come and have a fish for barramundi which is a catch and release system.

"My biggest possible threat would be through my water intake channels and that transmission of pathogens from imported product used as bait," Said Mr Hober.




Marine Pest Exercise


In February and April 2018, AHA in conjunction with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources developed the Marine Pest Exercise. The Program identified gaps and areas for improvement in responding to marine pests, and provided recommendations for future exercises to address these gaps.


The exercise involved key marine pest response stakeholders from government and industry exploring potential impacts and response activities that would be required in managing a marine pest emergency at a major Australian port. Participants considered and explored the considerations to be made during a response using a hypothetical invasive marine pest within a highly active operational environment with Sydney Harbour as a visual representation.


Find out more



Aquatic Emergency Response Training


Recently, Helen was sponsored by the Northern Territory Government Emergency Management to attend an Incident Management Team course for marine oil spills held by Australian Maritime Safety Authority. The overall aim of this course was to apply the decision making process to apply strategies in an oil spill response.

Helen shares her thoughts on the training below:


"I cannot emphasise enough the importance of emergency training for key stakeholders. As the untrained Industry Liaison Officer during the white spot disease in prawns response I suffered extreme stress, pressure, trauma and fatigue during what was a very long response. To managers in the industry I highly recommend you do some training and be prepared. It's very beneficial."


Social media


Over the coming month, we will begin regular communications regarding the Aquatic Deed across our social media channels. Click the icons to make sure you’re following us to keep up to date! We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Deed and the industry.


quick bits


Stock management app for oyster industry hailed as game changer


Brooke Neindorf, ABC Rural, 24 August 2018


After plenty of years in the pipeline a new app has been developed for the South Australian oyster industry, which will allow oyster farmers to keep track of their stock in a more efficient way.


Read more

Cutting-edge science and 19th-century Japanese trade secrets behind groundbreaking WA pearl hatchery


Courtney Fowler, ABC Rural, 02 August 2018


After nearly 60 years, one of Australia's oldest pearl farms is celebrating its first harvest involving a combination of 19th-century Japanese trade secrets and modern-day science.


Read more

Research paves way for Moreton Bay Bug aquaculture in Tasmania


University of Tasmania, media release, 16 July 2018


The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies researchers who developed a world-first method to breed rock lobsters commercially have now paved the way for a Moreton Bay bug aquaculture industry in Tasmania.


Read more


Forward to a friend!


If you know someone who would like to subscribe, feel free to forward this email to them or direct them to​ so they receive future updates.


Office location: Level 2, 95 Northbourne Ave, Turner ACT 2612