Ports have the potential to act as a stepping stone or be the initial area for a new invasive or pest species to enter Australia and are a critical line of defence. Introduced species arriving on international vessels carry the potential for introduction of pests and diseases. This has the potential to harm Australia’s natural environment; impact our health and wellbeing; impact a broad range of industries and/or our infrastructure on a range of scales.

Protection of Australia’s biosecurity is a responsibility shared by Government (Federal and State), Industry and the Community. A range of activities are undertaken at the Port including:

  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources inspect high risk vessels and cargo for hitchhiker and other suspected risks
  • Regular monitoring programs undertaken including for a range of potential pests including Introduced Marine Pests, Bee Boxes, African Snail and Mosquitos
  • Regular surveys or observations undertaken by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources; Biosecurity QLD, POTL staff and Port operators
  • Management of quarantine wastes
  • Treatment of standing water
  • Fumigation as required

First point of Entry

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 all international vessels and goods that enter Australian territory are subject to biosecurity control and generally must enter ports determined as First Point of Entry.  The Port of Townsville has been determined as a First Point of Entry.

All Port operators have a responsibility to ensure their compliance with legislation, and Operators need to have appropriate processes, measures and plans to manage the biosecurity risk of their operations and guarantee compliance with the First Point of Entry provisions, this includes: 

  • holding a current and understood Biosecurity Incident Response Procedure
  • provision of sufficient biosecurity response equipment (including knockdown spray and spill kits with disinfectant) to respond to an identified or potential biosecurity risk;
  • ensuring staff working with international arrivals have completed the Seaports Biosecurity Awareness eLearning package
  • engagement with a departmentally approved waste provider for the management of biosecurity waste discharged from the vessel and biosecurity waste generated from the onshore operations at the port.

For further information regarding first point of Entry obligations please refer to DAWR at .

Some examples of hitchhiker pests

Asian Green Mussel  Asian Gypsy Moth  Asian Bag Mussel 

Asian Tiger Mosquito  Marmorated Stink Bug  Giant African Snail 

 Asian Bee (right)

Varroa mite detection in Townsville

Biosecurity Queensland officers working as part of the National Varroa Mite Eradication Program (NVMEP) are responding to a new incursion of varroa mite (Varroa jacobsoni) found on a nest of feral Asian honey bees at the Port of Townsville on 28 April 2020.

Genetic testing indicates this Asian honey bee detection is not related to any previous incidents in Australia, including those in Cairns, or the subject of the current national eradication program underway in Townsville.

A prevention-and-control and a surveillance program under the Biosecurity Act 2014 remain in place following the detection of varroa mites on a colony of feral Asian honey bee at the Port of Townsville in May 2019.

The NVMEP is funded through a partnership between industry and government and commenced following detection of an Asian honey bee nest infested with varroa mite at the port in June 2016. Response activity implemented by Biosecurity Queensland since that time has wiped out that incursion.

The NVMEP is being led by Biosecurity Queensland and will continue until 30 April 2021.

The movement of live bees is restricted within the Townsville area. 

Townsville residents are urged to report any possible sightings of Asian honey bees to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or online at