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Section 270 Biosecurity Act
Discharging ballast water

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Section 270 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) is titled Discharging ballast water and is extracted below.

The section aims to deter and penalise operators of an Australia vessel who discharge water that is taken on board to maintain the vessel’s stability and trim.

The objective of the offence is to prevent the introduction of marine organisms been brought on board the vessel overseas from being dispersed into Australian waters, and thereby causing harm to the domestic marine environment.

It is important to be aware that section 271 contains an exception to the offence, which is where the ballast water has been managed for discharge in accordance with the Act.

For expert advice and outstanding representation from a criminal law firm with specialist experience defending clients accused of offences and civil contraventions under the Biosecurity Act 2015, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers® today on (02) 9261 8881 and let our trusted, multi-award winning defence team assist you.

The Legislation

Section 270 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) is titled Discharging ballast water and reads as follows:

Offence of discharging ballast water

Australian vessels

(1) A person contravenes this subsection if:
(a) the person is the person in charge or the operator of a vessel; and
(b) the vessel is an Australian vessel; and
(c) the vessel discharges ballast water (whether in or outside Australian seas).

Note: The physical elements of offences against subsections (2) and (3) are set out in this subsection (see section 534).

Foreign vessels

(1A) A person contravenes this subsection if:
(a) the person is the person in charge or the operator of a vessel; and
(b) the vessel is a foreign vessel; and
(c) the vessel is in Australian seas; and
(d) the vessel discharges ballast water.

Note: The physical elements of offences against subsections (2) and (3) are set out in this subsection (see section 534).

Fault-based offence

(2) A person commits an offence if the person contravenes subsection (1) or (1A).

Penalty: 2,000 penalty units.

Strict liability offence

(3) A person commits an offence of strict liability if the person contravenes subsection (1) or (1A).

Note: For offences of strict liability, see section 6.1 of the Criminal Code .

Penalty: 500 penalty units.


(4) Subsections (1) and (1A) do not apply if:
(a) the condition in section 271, 276, 277, 278A, 279, 282, or subsection 283(1), (2) or (3), is met in relation to the discharge of ballast water; and
(b) either of the following applies:
(i) the vessel has a ballast water management plan, and a ballast water management certificate is in force for the vessel;
(ii) the vessel is prescribed for the purposes of subsection 285A(3) or is granted an exemption under the scheme prescribed for the purposes of section 285B; and
(c) if subparagraph (b)(i) of this subsection applies–the management of the ballast water was carried out in accordance with the ballast water management plan; and
(d) if subparagraph (b)(ii) of this subsection applies–any condition of the exemption granted under the scheme prescribed for the purposes of section 285B has been met.

Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matter in this subsection (see subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code ).

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    If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

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