Permits

Undertaking activities outside the Great Barrier Reef

If you are considering undertaking activities outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park but which might affect either the World Heritage Area or any one of a number of other protected matters (like an endangered species or some wetlands) then you should contact the Department of the Environment for further guidance on your possible obligations.

A Marine Parks permit is a legal document granted to a company or individual giving them permission to operate and carry out activities within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park.

Why is a permit required?

A Marine Parks permit is a tool to ensure that your operations in the Marine Parks are ecologically sustainable. It is a way for managing agencies to give detailed consideration to proposed activities and apply any necessary conditions to those activities.

As well as ensuring sustainability, a permit provides you with a clear description of your access to these multiple use Marine Parks.

Who needs a permit?

Marine Parks permits are needed for a range of activities in the Great Barrier Reef. This is a requirement of the Zoning Plans for the Marine Parks.

To conduct a tourism operation in the Great Barrier Reef, you must have a Marine Parks permit to undertake activities such as:

  • the tourism operation itself;
  • installing and operating structures such as moorings, jetties, marinas and pontoons;
  • any works such as repairs to structures, dredging and dumping, placing and operating moorings;
  • anchoring or mooring for an extended period;
  • waste discharge from a fixed structure.

To find out more about what activities require a permit, refer to the Zoning Plans.

How to get a permit

Your first step is to apply to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) for a Marine Parks permit. You will need to pay a Permit Assessment Application Fee at this stage.

Your application will be assessed and a decision made. Permits are usually granted for a period of six years. Longer-term permits (15 years) are available for tourism operations that have a proven track record of high standards and are certified with a certification scheme recognised by GBRMPA.

About your permit

Every permit is unique. This means when you are granted a permit, it is important that you closely read and understand what the permit allows you to do and what conditions you must follow. During the term of your permit you may apply for changes to the permit or to transfer the permit to another person.

To encourage an active tourism industry, you must also commence operations within the first 2 years of the permit.

When your permit is close to expiring, you may wish to make a new application to continue your operation in the Marine Parks.

Some Marine Parks tourism permits are called 'special tourism permissions' because they allow you to conduct a tourism activity that is not available to all. If you hold one of these permits there are some important management arrangements that you need to know.

Remember, permit holders are also responsible for collecting and paying an Environmental Management Charge.

Steps to a Marine Parks Permit

  1. Find out about the area you wish to visit and your planned style of operation
  2. Fill out the application form and submit it to GBRMPA
  3. Pay your Permit Application Assessment Fee
  4. Check that your contact officer has all they need
  5. Read your permit as soon as you get it
  6. Sign and return your deeds

Undertaking activities outside the Great Barrier Reef

If you are considering undertaking activities outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park but which might affect either the World Heritage Area or any one of a number of other protected matters (like an endangered species or some wetlands) then you should contact the Department of the Environment for further guidance on your possible obligations.