How are reefs named?
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Australian Hydrographic Office and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection have an agreed process for naming reefs and other undersea geographic features within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The tripartite agreement was made in the 1980s because of the often ambiguous and overlapping roles between state and Commonwealth agencies in the naming of undersea geographic features within the Marine Park.
A memorandum of understanding formalised the process and principles involved in reef naming.
Each state and territory has legislative or regulatory procedures for approving and recording place names or features within their jurisdiction.
At the Commonwealth level, the recording of place names is the responsibility of the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping and more particularly its subcommittee, the Permanent Committee on Place Names.
Both committees have members representing the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, the Australian Defence Force, including the Australian Hydrographic Office, and relevant New Zealand agencies.
The Permanent Committee on Place Names, with the assistance of the National Mapping Division of Geoscience Australia, produces the Gazetteer of Australia. This contains place names derived from the official place name gazetteers in each state and territory and offshore undersea feature names maintained by the Australian Hydrographic Office.
Within the Gazetteer of Australia, unapproved place and feature names are also maintained – reef names occur within this category.
Our most recent named Reef
A reef 210 kilometres east-north-east of Mackay now bears the name Joe Baker Reef in honour of the world-renowed marine scientist and one of our foundational board members.
Professor Joe Baker, who passed away in 2018, was a dedicated Queensland scientist passionate about marine conservation. One of his most appreciated and significant contributions was his involvement in achieving World Heritage listing for the Great Barrier Reef in 1981. Among his achievements, Dr Baker founded aquaculture and marine bio-discovery research at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville.
He also authored three books, 42 State of the Environment Reports, over 100 scientific publications and presented more than 100 scientific papers. Dr Baker developed a reputation as a scientific advisor to Governments and also as an inspiring educator and mentor to emerging scientists.
He advocated for holistic methods in the management of natural resources — including the importance of considering social, cultural, economic and ecological values in decision making. Dr Baker was heavily involved in organisations such as Earthwatch, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Australian Heritage Committee, World Wildlife Fund, Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University.
Dr Baker was also a foundation member of the Queensland Academy of Sport and foundation staff member at James Cook University.
Joe Baker Reef is located within a Marine National Park Zone (MNP-20-1124), about 210 kilometres east-north-east of Mackay with a Reef area of about 82 square kilometres.
His family were involved in the selection of the reef which bears his name. Located between a Habitat Protection zone and a Preservation zone, the position of Joe Baker Reef reflects the balance he brought to accessibility to the Great Barrier Reef while protecting it for future generations.
What is the Permanent Committee on Place Names?
The Permanent Committee on Place Names was formed in 1984 to coordinate Australian place-naming activities.
Representatives come from the Australian Geographical Names Boards for each state and territory, New Zealand and other individuals and institutions with an interest on nomenclature.
Who to contact to propose a reef name
To propose a name for an individual reef, contact:
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Phone: +61 7 4750 0700
Summary of names accepted under the tripartite agreement
|Name||Number||Zoning Map||Date of Approval|
|Joe Baker Reef||20-1124||MNP 20||June 2019|
|Bob Endean Reef||17-065||MPZ 6||8 December 2014|
|Ron Taylor Reef||21-284||MPZ 16||1 October 2013|
|Patricia Mather Reef||21-148||MPZ 13||4 October 2012|
|Virginia Chadwick Reef||18-016||MPZ 7||23 April 2010|
|Vicki Harriott Reef||15-070||MPZ 5||1 August 2009|
|Ron Isbel Reef||22-108||MPZ 14||1 August 2009|
|Isobel Bennett Reef||21-505||MPZ 14||13 October 2008|
|Perkins Reef||21-274||MPZ 14||1 November 2007|
|Mullers Reef||21-173||MPZ 13||1 November 2007|
|Callum Shoal||20-1271||MPZ 10 & MPZ 11||1 November 2007|
|Peter Reef||13-055||MPZ 3||1 November 2007|
|Cowboys Reef||18-082||MPZ 9||6 October 2005|
|Nancy Foster Reef||21-131||MPZ 13||2 February 2005|
|Walker Reef||18-026||MPZ 7 & MPZ 8||14 July 2003|
|Reimer Reef||19-152||MPZ 11||14 July 2003|
|Anniversary Reefs||(Banfield Reef (South) 18-105,|
Saville- Kent Reef 18-099 and
Judith Wright Reef 18-101)
|MPZ 9||18 April 2001|
|Bandjin Reefs||(Barnett Patches 18-019,|
Duncan Reef 18-020,
Moss Reef 17-068,
Reg Ward Reef 18-017
and 4 unnamed reefs)
|MPZ 7 & MPZ 8||20 February 2001|
|Muirhead Reef||20-187||MPZ 13||6 December 2000|
|Newell Reef||20-396||MPZ 14||6 December 2000|
|Olympic Reef||20-377||MPZ 13||29 August 2000|
|Fitzalan Passage||MPZ 10 (not shown on map)||25 November 1999|
|Kupuntutu Passage||MPZ 3||22 July 1999|
|Osborn Passage||MPZ 3||1 June 1999|
|Lads Passage||MPZ 3||1 June 1999|
|Rachel Carson Reef||15-092||MPZ 5||12 December 1997|