Compliance management

The compliance management program for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area includes the use of a wide range of compliance and enforcement tools including on-ground compliance and surveillance, and a broader education program.

Given the size of the area, there is a cooperative compliance management and surveillance program involving a significant number of Australian and Queensland government agencies including:

  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • Queensland Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing 
  • Border Protection Command
  • Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol
  • Queensland Police Service
  • Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority
  • Maritime Safety Queensland.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) sees communication and education as the most effective strategy to encourage compliance with Marine Park management principles and legislation. This includes education, and the provision of maps and reference material promoting voluntary compliance. However, GBRMPA does undertake enforcement and prosecution action where it is deemed appropriate and necessary.

Other aspects of compliance management

Zoning the Marine Park to assist voluntary compliance

The boundaries of all individual Marine Park zones have been described using global positioning system (GPS) coordinates. This allows users to easily identify boundaries and enforcement staff define infringements. Boundary descriptions comprising GPS coordinates for all zones can be found in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003.

Community involvement in compliance management

Education and community involvement is an important part of the strategy to encourage compliance within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The local community and those who use the Great Barrier Reef for both commercial and recreational purposes play an important role in effective compliance and surveillance. Members of the public are encouraged to report incidents they witness.

Aircraft and vessel surveillance patrols

The Australian and Queensland governments have a strong commitment to protecting the World Heritage Area from illegal activities. An effective surveillance and enforcement program is essential to the successful management of the Marine Park.

The Field Management Program has in place a comprehensive and coordinated aircraft and vessel surveillance program. This surveillance program includes the resources of partner agencies Border Protection Command, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol and the Queensland Police Service, as well as the dedicated resources of GBRMPA and the Queensland Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing.

The powers of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park inspectors

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park inspectors who undertake surveillance include officers from GBRMPA and partner agencies that participate in the Field Management Program. All Australian Federal Police Officers are also appointed as Great Barrier Reef Marine Park inspectors. Marine Park inspectors are trained through the Field Management Program and have powers under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.