Filming and photography guidelines

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is one of the world's natural wonders and has been featured in numerous documentaries, films and photographic works.

Under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003, photography, filming and/or sound recording on or under the water is allowed without a permit in most areas of the Marine Park if it is done in a way that has, or is likely to have, negligible impact on the Marine Park.

However, a permit is required if your activities involve:

  • the placing of structures
  • the placing of certain equipment on coral / seagrass or in close proximity to coral and seagrass
  • special effects such as simulated explosions
  • introduction of biological and/or artificial props
  • the need to 'manage' other Marine Park users during filming (for example, temporarily excluding some users from the filming location)
  • manipulation of habitat
  • handling of marine life
  • cetaceans (i.e. whales and dolphins) (see below)
  • highly protected areas (see below)
  • anything that may have an impact on the physical, social, cultural or heritage value of the Marine Park

Permit applications

A permit application form should be submitted at least 16 weeks prior to any activities occurring. We also recommend you consult the Queensland Government filming guidelines prior to undertaking any activities.

Please be aware there are also guidelines for being a responsible reef user to ensure marine life is not adversely affected. Failure to do so can result in penalties.

Unmanned aircraft

An information sheet is available on requirements for the use of unmanned aircraft for filming and research purposes.

Whales and dolphins

You should note the requirements of interacting with whales and dolphins and if in doubt contact us.

Highly protected areas

Activities in Special Management Areas may require a permit, dependent on the area and the timing of filming.

Please note that permits for filming in Preservation Zones and some Scientific Research Zones are unlikely to be approved.

Further information

If you have any questions please contact us on (07) 4750 0846.

  • Free Zoning Maps

    Zoning maps

    If you're heading out on the water, don't forget your free Zoning Map so you know where you can go and what you can do.

  • Important milestone

    40 years anniversary

    We're delighted to celebrate the 40 years of the managing the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Visit the Reef

    fish on reef

    Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing animals, plants, and habitats.

  • What you can do

    purple coral

    Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this great Australian icon.

  • Report marine strandings

    turtle

    If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)

  • Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef

    Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef vulnerability assessment cover image

    A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Current Conditions

    Current Conditions logo promo image

    Current Conditions: Environmental and climatic forecasts for the Great Barrier Reef