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:
- The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019 will come into effect on 1 April 2019 — but will not result in any substantive change to the rules that apply 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
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 came into force on 16 July 2000 and regulates actions that have, will have or are likely to have, a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance.
- Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 prohibits dumping of waste or other matter from any vessel, aircraft or platform in Australian waters unless a permit has been issued.
- Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 prohibits certain activities in relation to historic shipwrecks and relics and requires discoveries to be notified.
- Native Title Act 1993 provides for a number of important aspects of native title, including the recognition and protection of native title and a mechanism for determining claims to native title.
- Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 is the responsibility of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development together with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
- Sea Installations Act 1987 provides for a number of aspects relating to sea installations including requirements that they be operated in a manner consistent with protection of the environment.
Legislation enacted by the State of Queensland which is relevant to the Great Barrier Reef includes:
- Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (Qld)
- Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld)
- Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld)
- Marine Parks Act 2004 (Qld)
- Native Title (Queensland) Act 1993 (Qld)
- Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld)
- Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld)
- Transport Operations (Marine Pollution) Act 1995 (Qld)
- Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994 (Qld)
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)
- Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (Qld)
Further information is available from the Queensland Government, in particular the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
A number of international conventions are relevant to the Great Barrier Reef, including:
- Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 1972 (the World Heritage Convention)
- Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992 (the Biodiversity Convention)
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 1973 (CITES)
- Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, 1979 (the Bonn Convention)
- Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitats, 1971 (the Ramsar Convention)
- International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (the MARPOL Convention)
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 (the Law of the Sea Convention)
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1992 (the FCCC)
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.