Special Management Areas provide a responsive and flexible approach to implementing appropriate management strategies at various sites in the Marine Park. They are an additional layer on top of zoning.

A Special Management Area may be designated for a number of reasons including:

  • Conservation of a particular species or natural resource for example turtle, dugong, bird nesting sites or fish spawning aggregation sites
  • Public safety
  • To ensure opportunities for appreciation by the public
  • Response to an emergency (for example, a ship grounding, oil spill or marine pest outbreak).

There are eight main types of Special Management Areas declared in the Great Barrier Reef Zoning Plan 2003, six of which are listed below.

Restricted Access

These areas may not be used or entered without written permission. Restricted Access Special Management Areas are designated at the following locations:

  • Maclennan Cay Reef (11-070a)
  • Moulter Cay Reef (11-130)
  • Raine Island Reef (11-243)
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science (SR-19-2008)
  • One Tree Island Reef (SR-23-2010).

In addition, shore access to many islands may be restricted or restricted seasonally. Please refer to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection for more information.

Public Appreciation

These Special Management Areas restrict spearfishing, commercial aquarium fish collecting, coral harvesting, beachworm harvesting, and aquaculture from being undertaken.

Public Appreciation Special Management Areas are designated at the following Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones, as they require detailed site specific management.

  • Yonge Reef (14-138) - lee side (CP-14-4017)
  • Lizard Island Reef (14-116b): Mermaid Bay to Pigeon Point (CP-14-4018)
  • North Opal Reef (16-025) (CP-16-4029)
  • Flynn Reef (16-065) (CP-16-4035)
  • Thetford Reef (16-068) (CP-16-4036)
  • Fitzroy Island Reef (16-054) (16-16-4039) - allows aquaculture operations
  • Dunk Island Reef (CP-17-4045/MNP-17-1073)
  • Bedarra Island Reef (CP-17-4045)
  • Orpheus Island Reef south-west (18-049b and c) (CP-18-4053)
  • Davies Reef (18-096) (CP-18-4056)
  • Cape Upstart (CP-19-4064) western side only
  • All of the following areas of the Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone within the Whitsundays:
  • Hayman and Hook Islands (CP-20-4075)
  • Saba Bay, Hook Island (CP-20-4076)
  • Double Cone Reef (CP-20-4077)
  • Molle Islands (CP-20-4080)
  • Whitsunday and Hamilton Islands (CP-20-4081)
  • Shute Island (CP-20-4083)
  • Long Island (CP-20-4084 and CP-20-4085)
  • Lindeman, Pentecost, Cole Island, except tha part of the zone adjacent to Shaw Island (CP-20-4086).
  • Brampton Island - West (CP-20-4091)
  • Brampton Island - East (CP-20-4091)
  • North Keppel Island - Considine Bay (CP-23-4101)
  • Great Keppel Island - western side (CP-23-4102)
  • Heron Reef (CP-23-4104)
  • Wistari Reef (CP-23-4106).

Seasonal Closure (Offshore Ribbon Reefs)

The Ribbon Reefs and adjacent areas are unique, as they are located at a particular part of the continental shelf, which drops sharply away from the reef edge. These important areas of reef support diverse species, including large pelagic fish such as marlin.

Special Management Areas designated in these areas provide additional protection to the Ribbon Reefs and adjacent habitats. These Special Management Areas prohibit all fishing and detached dories in these areas from 1 January to 31 August each year.

Locations for Seasonal Closure (Offshore Ribbon Reefs) Special Management Areas are:

  • Areas adjacent to Day Reef (14-089) Scientific Research (Orange) Zone (SR-14-2001)
  • Area adjacent to Ribbon No. 10 Reef (14-146) Marine National Park (Green) Zone (MNP-14-1030)
  • Area adjacent to Ribbon No. 7 Reef (15-026), Ribbon No. 6 Reef (15-032) Preservation (Pink) Zone (P-15-12) and unnamed reef (15-034) Marine National Park (Green) Zone
  • Ribbon No. 5 Reef Patches (15-042) Buffer (Olive Green) Zone (B-15-3007)
  • Ribbon No. 2 and 3 Reefs and interreefal areas Buffer (Olive Green) Zone (B-15-3008).

No Dories Detached (Offshore Ribbon Reefs)

For the reasons discussed above no dories are allowed to be detached at any time in the following Special Management Area locations:

  • Area to the east of Yonge Reef (14-138) and no name Reef (14-139)
  • Area around the No. 10 Patches (No. 3) (14-153a) and No. 10 Patches (No. 4) (14-153b).

Species Conservation (Dugong Protection)

These Special Management Areas reflect the requirements of Dugong Protection Areas under Queensland Fisheries legislation to the extent to which those areas are located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and are designated for species conservation. For more information about these areas, see the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.

View maps showing Dugong Protection Areas

Amendments to commercial netting rules in Bowling Green Bay Species Conservation (Dugong Protection) Special Management Area - amendments to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 were introduced in December 2011 to increase protection to dugong within the Bowling Green Bay Species Conservation (Dugong Protection) Special Management Area. The rule changes further restrict commercial net fishing within the existing Species Conservation (Dugong Protection) Special Management Area.

Clarification of rules in Dugong Protection Area Bs for net fishing

Recent amendments to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 give greater protection to dugong in and around headland areas, by restricting the use of set mesh nets in certain parts of particular Dugong Protection Area Bs. The changes are a technical amendment to clarify long-standing existing netting rules, by providing clear definitions of areas around headlands where the use of offshore set nets is prohibited to reduce the risk of incidental catch to dugong.

View information sheet and maps about minor netting changes in DPA Bs

Princess Charlotte Bay

This Special Management Area has been designated to protect dugong within Princess Charlotte Bay in the Far Northern Management Area of the Marine Park. The Special Management Area requires commercial net fishers to obtain a permit to operate within Princess Charlotte Bay.