There is a range of legislation specific to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park:

  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 is the primary Act and includes provisions which:
    • establish the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
    • establish the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), a Commonwealth authority responsible for the management of the Marine Park
    • provide a framework for planning and management of the Marine Park, including through zoning plans, plans of management and a system of permissions
    • prohibit mining operations (which includes prospecting or exploration for, as well as recovery of, minerals) in the Great Barrier Reef Region (unless authorised to carry out the operations by a permission granted under the Regulations, for the purpose of research or investigations relevant to the conservation of the Marine Park)
    • require compulsory pilotage for certain ships in prescribed areas of the Great Barrier Reef Region
    • provides an investigation regime under the Act and the EPBC Act, including the appointment of inspectors and powers of investigation for those inspectors
    • provides enforcement mechanisms including criminal enforcement action, civil penalties, administration action, infringements notices and emergency powers.
  • Two Acts relate to the environmental management charge:
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 are the primary regulations in force under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975. They include a number of offence provisions, in addition to provisions on matters such as applications for and the granting of permissions, compulsory pilotage, environmental management charge, plans of management, and review rights. Amendments to the Regulations came into force on 25 November 2009.
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Aquaculture) Regulations 2000 regulate the discharge of waste from aquaculture operations which may affect animals and plants in the Marine Park.
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003 is the primary planning instrument for the conservation and management of the Marine Park. In having regard to the objects set out in subsection 32(1) of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975, this Zoning Plan takes account of the world heritage values of the Marine Park and the principles of ecologically sustainable use. The Zoning Plan aims, along with other management mechanisms, to conserve the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem within a network of highly protected zones, and provide opportunities for the ecologically sustainable use of the Reef and access to the Great Barrier Reef Region by current and future generations.

Other Commonwealth legislation

Queensland legislation

Legislation enacted by the State of Queensland which is relevant to the Great Barrier Reef includes:

Further information is available from the Queensland Government, in particular the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

International conventions

A number of international conventions are relevant to the Great Barrier Reef, including:

In addition, Great Barrier Reef was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981, pursuant to the World Heritage Convention. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was the first ‘Particularly Sensitive Sea Area’ designated by the International Maritime Organisation.