How the Reef is managed
- Managing multiple uses
- Marine Monitoring Program
- Eye on the Reef program
- Water quality in the Great Barrier Reef
- Science for management
- Tourism on the Great Barrier Reef
- Recreation on the Great Barrier Reef
- Fisheries in the Marine Park
- Field Management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
- Managing Commonwealth Islands
- Register of management arrangements
- Douglas Shoal environmental remediation project
- Managing for a resilient Reef
- Strategic assessment and 25-year management plan
- Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report
Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan
- Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan
- Reef 2050 policies
- Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program
Threats to the Reef
- Climate change
- How climate change is affecting the Reef
- What does this mean for species?
- Climate change impacts on microscopic organisms
- Climate change impacts on marine plants
- Climate change impacts on corals
- Climate change impacts on fish
- Climate change impacts on marine mammals
- Climate change impacts on marine reptiles
- Climate change impacts on seabirds
- Climate change impacts on seabed dwellers
- What does this mean for habitats?
- What does this mean for communities and industries?
- Climate Change Action Plan 2012-2017
- Current conditions on the Reef
- Coastal development and protecting the Great Barrier Reef
- Declining water quality
- Extreme weather
- Remaining impacts from fishing
- Marine debris
- Climate change
How the Reef is managed
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is responsible for ensuring the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park—one of the world's greatest natural treasures—is protected for the future.
As a World Heritage Area, the Reef is recognised internationally for its outstanding universal value.
For 40 years we've managed this biologically diverse icon and multiple-use area, using the best available scientific information and input from marine managers, researchers, experts and Traditional Owners.
Our management is guided by a range of plans, policies, regulations and legislation, with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 setting out our functions and responsibilities.
We directly manage activities in the Marine Park, implement plans and policies for Reef use and protection, and work with communities and industries that depend on a healthy Reef for recreation and their livelihoods. Tourism, fishing, boating and shipping are all legitimate uses of the Marine Park.
Focus for management
The Marine Park is widely recognised as one of the best managed marine protected areas in the world, and it's management involves ensuring environmental protection while allowing for national, state and community interests in sustainable use.
Our Outlook Report and strategic assessment highlight threats to the Reef and its values, helping us to understand the priority areas for management. Our 25-year management plan outlines our mix of on-ground work, policies, strategies and engagement.
We’re also working with other Australian and Queensland government agencies, industries and the community to implement the Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan, an overarching framework for Reef management.
Reef 2050 includes a Reef Trust, which will use Australian Government and private funds to focus on improving coastal habitats and water quality throughout the Reef and adjacent catchments.
Climate change is the greatest threat to coral reefs worldwide. We are working to understand the the risks of climate change and other threats to the Reef, and helping reef communities and industries adapt to the changing environment. A resilient Reef is better able to withstand stress and cope with impacts of disturbances.
Each summer, we assess the health of reefs, as this part of the year poses a greater risk of extreme weather, particularly heat waves, cyclones and flooding. Other initiatives including the Eye on the Reef app and our Marine Monitoring Program help us keep up to date on the current conditions on the Reef.
We also support key reef education facilities to undertake extensive reviews of their energy consumption, leading to large decreases in their climate footprints:
- The Authority's Reef HQ Aquarium has achieved a large reduction in energy use, by upgrading pump and filter systems, and becoming the first tourism attraction in Queensland to be registered as a solar power station.
- The Lady Elliott Island resort has achieved 100 per cent carbon neutrality by upgrading its facilities and replacing diesel-run generators with solar-powered energy sources.
- The Low Isles largely use solar power and are working towards becoming totally carbon neutral.
We’ve also collaborated with industry groups to develop a range of environmental accreditation schemes and programs that encourage and reward reef businesses for reducing their climate footprints.
Regulatory tools—such as our Zoning Plan, plans of management, permits and policies—enable us to manage activities that take place in the multiple-use Marine Park which extends over 99 per cent of the World Heritage Area.
The entire Marine Park is covered by a zoning plan. This operates similar to a town plan, by identifying where particular activities can and cannot occur.
Protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef region is a partnership between many government agencies, stakeholders and the public.
For example, the Authority and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service operate a joint field management program of education, compliance and enforcement to support rules aimed at protecting the ecosystem, and Fisheries Queensland undertakes much of the fisheries management within the Marine Park.
In addition, the Federal Environment Department is responsible for implementing the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; Maritime Border Command provides aerial surveillance of the region; and the Australian Institute of Marine Science undertakes research.