About the Project

Australia has 250 introduced marine species and whilst many of those species have minimal impact, others are considered nationally significant marine pests. One of these species is the Northern Pacific Sea star, Asterias amurensis (NPS), which has been identified as a major threat to the marine ecosystems of Port Phillip Bay. These sea stars are a highly mobile and effective predators of native and commercial species of mussels, oysters, and scallops. Since 2019, several aggregations of NPS have been observed in different locations around Port Philip Bay. This attracted widespread community concern, but removal was often done by a handful of volunteers without regional strategy. In 2022, the EcoCentre established a cross-sectoral network to facilitate rapid community responses to marine pest outbreaks and activate and support Victorians in protecting the valuable marine environment that we love.

Thanks to success of the Pest Sea Star Community Rapid Response Program the EcoCentre developed PestWatch! to detect, monitor and remove another marine invasive species: the Asian Shore Crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus). The Asian Shore Crab is a small (<5cm) but aggressive crab that was first reported in 2020, but probably arrived to Port Phillip Bay in 2016. The Asian Shore Crab is a very effective predator and may outcompete and displace other native species. Learn about the impacts of the Asian Shore Crab and how to identify them with the Asian Shore Crab Educational Module on EcoCentre TV

Early detection of marine pests is essential for their successful control. While preventing their arrival provides the most effective means of managing marine pests, knowledgeable volunteers actively protecting their local marine environment can provide a critical early warning of new pest introductions, as they are more likely to spot and report invasive species when they appear (e.g. the Asian shore crab, sea urchin barrens getting out of control).

Marine biosecurity is a shared responsibility across government, industry and the community; more people engaged and educated means more trained eyes on the areas and marine assets (such as piers and marine parks) we all love. This project is providing education and practical, hands-on engagement opportunities in environmental volunteering. 


Get in touch with Sabrina if you’re interested in joining your local Rapid Response Team.

This project is funded by the Port Phillip Bay Fund  

The EcoCentre acknowledges the Kulin Nations, including the Yalukit Willam clan of the Boon Wurrung language group, traditional custodians of the land on which we are located.

We pay respects to their Elders past and present, and extend that respect to other First Nations and Elder members of our multicultural community.