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.

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