Chemical Use

The World Heritage-listed Marine Park area continues to be clean and pristine thanks to careful attention by those who use and manage it.

With an increasing number of people using the Marine Park and various other pressures, there’s now an even greater need for caution in your use of chemicals. By chemicals, we mean all the substances you use in your operation, both the hazardous and the harmless.

By being careful with your chemical usage and observing the following simple measures, you will considerably lessen the risk of spillage and help keep the Marine Park’s waters pristine for future generations of visitors and marine life alike.

Responsible Reef Practices

In general

  • Always know what chemicals you have on board, and in what quantities.
  • Use environmentally friendly, biodegradable alternatives wherever possible - avoid using environmentally damaging chemicals.
  • Limit the quantities of chemicals you use.
  • Use chemicals in properly sealed and protected areas.
  • Follow instructions on the label for the use of chemicals; many chemicals recommend that they not be used near water.
  • Never release chemicals into the environment.
  • Advise passengers, for example, those on live-aboard vessels or pontoons, to limit their use of soap and shampoos when out on the water.
  • Advise passengers to use an environmentally friendly benzene-free sunscreen.
  • Regularly clean all areas of your boat, plant equipment and engine rooms to avoid the need for heavy cleaning and the use of strong chemicals.
  • Maintain paintwork through polish rather than through chemicals.
  • Ensure your employees are familiar with the relevant Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for every chemical they use.
  • Train staff in appropriate chemical usage, handling, and spill response.
  • Keep only small quantities on your vessel - store bulk chemicals on the mainland.
  • Minimise the handling of chemicals to reduce the chance of spillage.
  • Keep well-maintained spill kits on your vessel and other work areas, and update them regularly.
  • Make sure the spill kit suits your operation and potential spill type and size.
  • Clean up any spills through dry methods only – that is, you should ‘contain, collect and dispose’.

When purchasing chemicals

  • Reduce inventories and store only what you need.
  • Purchase in bulk and dispense into smaller, transportable containers, if appropriate. Use appropriate dispensing equipment. Purchase chemicals appropriate for use in a sensitive environment and use biodegradable and environmentally friendly products wherever possible.
  • Always look into suitable alternatives and advances in technology.

When storing chemicals

  • Store them properly in a well-ventilated, bunded (sealed) and secure area.
  • Label all containers with the chemical’s name, proper use and concentration information.
  • Know which chemicals can and cannot be stored together.
  • Conduct chemical audits on a regular basis to check the expiration dates, proper storage procedures, undetected spills, and compliance with applicable Commonwealth and State legislation and Australian standards.


  • Please report all marine pollution, including chemical spills and suspected illegal disposal of wastes.

Marine Parks Legal Requirements

  • You must not dispose of harmful substances or noxious liquids in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
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