Large Vessels Operations

There is a small, but growing number of marine tourism operations based around large vessels or super yachts. Vessels of this size allow operators to offer clients a unique and tailored Marine Park experience.

For some of the key tourism areas in the Marine Park, there are special management arrangements for large vessels (defined as vessels between 35 to 70 metres in length). Please make sure that you are familiar with these arrangements.

What permits do I need?

To operate a tourism business using a large vessel, you will need a Marine Parks permit. Please check that the permit allows the length of vessel you intend to use.

Even if you are only briefly visiting the Marine Park or are generally here for private enjoyment, you will need a Marine Parks permit if you are providing transport, accommodation or services for tourists during your stay.

If you wish to access islands and island National Parks as part of your operation you may require additional permits from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

What particular requirements are there?

Your Marine Parks permit will contain some important requirements about operating in the Marine Park. Please make sure you know your permit conditions, including any areas that you are not permitted to visit (exclusion areas).

When operating a large vessel in the Marine Park, you are likely to be visiting a wide range of areas and locations. Before you begin your trip, please check the management arrangements for where you go, paying particular attention to zoning requirements and specific arrangements in the Planning Areas.

Generally in Planning Areas, your access to locations and setting areas is tied to the size of the group you have onboard and the size of your vessel.

In the Cairns Planning Area, please check the group size limits for each location you wish to visit, noting that there are some allowances for large vessels carrying less than 100 people (including crew). Also check the anchoring arrangements for large vessels, including your access to designated Reef Anchorages and cruise ship anchorages.

In the Hinchinbrook Planning Area, please check the group and vessel limits for the area, noting that large vessels are generally required to stay outside Locations. Also check the anchoring arrangements for large vessels, including your access to designated cruise ship anchorages. When visiting the Hinchinbrook Planning Area, you may only use your vessel’s tender to transport passengers between the vessel and an island, the mainland, a tourist facility in the Planning Area (e.g. a jetty) or somewhere outside the Planning Area. Local tourism operators are available to conduct any additional tourist activities.

In the Whitsundays Planning Area, please check the settings for the place you wish to visit, noting that large vessels can generally visit setting 1 areas and any where outside other setting areas. Also check the anchoring arrangements for large vessels, including your access to cruise ship anchorages.

What is the ReefVTS?

All vessels with an overall length of 50 metres or greater, specialised product carriers or ships under tow, are required to participate in the Coastal Vessel Traffic Service (ReefVTS). This service provides ships with shipping traffic information, navigational assistance and maritime safety information to aid on-board decision making. Contact the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Maritime Safety Queensland for more details.

How can I help protect the Reef

Whenever you are operating in the Marine Park, you can help protect the Reef by following the responsible reef practices for your activities.

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