Differences between the Marine Park and the World Heritage Area

In terms of marine protected areas, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area remain the best known globally and the most comprehensively managed. 

Size (km2)
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area
Landward (inner) boundary
Low water mark, but excludes internal waters and various small exclusion areas (eg.ports)
Low water mark on the mainland
Islands
Includes only 70 Commonwealth Islands
Includes all 1050 islands (including Commonwealth islands)
Tidal waters/tidal lands
Not included along the coast and around Queensland-owned islands
Included where they occur around islands
Date declared
Progressively declared since 1975
1981

Today nearly 99% of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is within the multiple-use Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The remaining section falls under Queensland Government jurisdiction – this amounts to 3,600 km2 and includes most islands, ports and other internal state waters.

The Great Barrier Reef on a global perspective


Largest marine protected areas:

Marine Protected Area
Country
Area (km2)
Cook Islands Marine Park
Cook Islands
1,065,000
Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve
Australia
989,842
Kermadec Benthic Protection Area
New Zealand
620,467
Chagos Environment Preservation and Protection Zone
British Indian Ocean Territory
544,000
Phoenix Islands Protected Area
Kiribati
408,250
Papahānaumokuākea (North-western Hawaiian Islands)  
United States
362,075
Great Barrier Reef
Australia
348,000

Largest World Heritage areas:

World Heritage Area
Country
Area (km2)
Phoenix Islands Protected Area
Kiribati
408,250
Papahānaumokuākea (North-western Hawaiian Islands)      
United States
362,075
Great Barrier Reef
Australia
348,000