Since 2011, there has been an increase in most forms of vessel activity in marine waters. As a result, risks associated with grounding of vessels, anchor scouring, accidents at sea in ecologically sensitive areas, vessel strike of marine animals, and introduction of foreign marine species to the Australian marine environment through the exchange of ballast water and biofouling are also likely to have risen, particularly those that are not currently managed across all forms of vessels. Improvements in the management of commercial vessels are resulting in mitigation and minimisation of some of the associated risks, but the outcomes of other risks remain unclear.
High, but variable, concentrations of land-sourced and ocean-sourced marine debris are found in all marine environments, with significant quantities of plastics reported in the digestive tracts of several species of marine vertebrates. Continued growth in plastics production and use is expected, despite initiatives banning the use of some plastic products and improved waste management processes. Thus, marine debris will continue to be a ubiquitous problem affecting marine animals and their environment.
Sources of high point-source anthropogenic noise are spatially variable, but generally regarded as either stable or decreasing. Increasing use of the marine environment is shifting anthropogenic contributions to marine soundscapes towards ongoing low-level noise, with uncertain long-term chronic impacts on the Australian marine environment.