Maritime Security Threats

Identify threats

Border Protection Command is responsible for managing the Government’s response to eight distinct maritime threats within Australia’s maritime domain.

Border Protection Command acts on behalf of approximately 26 different stakeholders to mitigate risks posed by these threats. The Command prioritises its operations and uses an intelligence-led, risk-based intervention approach to protecting our border. It is important for us to identify the key risks that affect the objectives and priorities set out by the Government.

The Australian Government recognises the following civil maritime security threats to Australia's national interests:

  • Illegal exploitation of natural resources;
  • Illegal activity in protected areas;
  • Unauthorised maritime arrivals;
  • Prohibited imports/exports;
  • Maritime Terrorism;
  • Piracy, robbery or violence at sea;
  • Compromise to Bio-security; and
  • Marine pollution.

BPC contributes to the management (through prevention, preparedness, response and recovery) of all civil security threats in the AMD.

Illegal exploitation of natural resources

Australia's national interests are threatened by the illegal exploitation of natural resources in its maritime domain. This includes:

  • Unauthorised foreign fishing undertaken by foreign fishing vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zone;
  • Operations by vessels in direct support of foreign fishing vessels such as the transfer of catches at sea;
  • Illegal or unsustainable practices by domestic fishermen ;
  • The removal or destruction of wildlife for illegal purposes; and
  • Activities that cause unlawful damage to the ecosystem.

For further information, please see the web pages for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals

Australia's national interests are threatened by any unauthorised arrival of people. The Australian Government has responsibility for the lawful and orderly entry of people into Australia, along with ensuring that only those foreign nationals who are appropriately authorised are allowed to stay.

For further information, please see the web page for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Piracy, robbery or violence at sea

Piracy and robbery in the maritime domain include profit-motivated illegal activities undertaken against vessels, infrastructure or individuals in either an organised or an opportunistic manner. Violence is generally intrinsic in acts of piracy and robbery, but violence can also occur as an isolated event.

Maritime Terrorism

Australia's national interests are threatened by any act of maritime terrorism in its maritime domain. Categories of terrorist attack include, but are not limited to:

  • Attacks on critical infrastructure;
  • Attacks on vessels and commercial interests; and
  • Environmental / biological attacks on the maritime area.

Fact sheets:

For information about counter-terrorism, please go to the Australian Government's National Security website.

Illegal Activity in Protected Areas

Australia's national interests are threatened by illegal activity in protected areas within its maritime domain. Protected areas include:

  • Protected Areas within designated Marine Reserves;
  • Designated areas within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park;
  • Declared Protected Zones around Australia's offshore oil and gas installations, submerged pipelines/cables; and
  • Declared historic wreck sites.

Prohibited Imports/Exports

Australia's national interests are threatened by prohibited activities in relation to importation or exportation of goods. Prohibited activities include:

  • Smuggling;
  • Transferring goods at sea;
  • Illegal importation / exportation of goods; and
  • The import / export of prohibited goods.

Compromise to Bio-Security

Australia's national interests are threatened by any compromise to its bio-security introduced through the maritime domain. Potential security threat events in this category include:

  • Deliberate introduction; and
  • Inadvertent introduction.

Marine Pollution

Australia's national interests are threatened by marine pollution, which can occur through inadvertent, reckless or deliberate actions, and can affect the environment, shipping or coastal developments. Adverse results from such attacks could result in:

  • Marine spills and discharges;
  • Illegal sea-dumping;
  • Marine debris; and
  • Marine obstruction. modified: 27 July, 2011 3:42 PM