Super-yachts over 70 metres

What does my permit allow?

The Marine Park is divided into zones that are described in the Zoning Plan. Generally, your permit will allow:

  • Access for your super-yacht to the General Use (light blue) Zone and Shipping Areas. These areas are shown on zoning maps
  • Ability to access other zones, except Preservation (pink) Zones, when transiting to and from or anchoring at a cruise ship anchorage. There is a comprehensive network of cruise ship anchorages throughout the Marine Park which you are able to access
  • Ability to access the cruise ship transit areas.These areas are shown on the cruise ship anchorages map
  • Ability to access other zones, except Preservation (pink) Zones, within the Planning Areas
  • Operation always beyond 500 metres of a reef or coastline except when transiting to and from or anchoring at a cruise ship anchorage.

Generally, your tender will be able to access all of the following zones:

  • General Use (light blue) Zone
  • Habitat Protection (dark blue) Zone
  • Conservation Park (yellow) Zone
  • Buffer (olive green) Zone
  • Marine National Park (green) Zone

Some areas that experience high use or have high conservation values have additional management provisions. These areas are:

  • Offshore Cairns and Port Douglas (covered by the Cairns Planning Area)
  • Hinchinbrook
  • The Whitsundays

See Download Map for a map of the Great Barrier Reef boundaries and the Planning Areas.

Outside the Planning Areas, you may only visit a location (generally a reef, island or bay) for two days in any seven-day period. To help conserve and protect some important locations, there are some standard  exclusions. All your exclusions will be listed on your permit.

Please make sure you know your permit conditions, including any areas that you are not permitted to visit, especially because of your vessel size.

Accessing the Planning Areas 

You are able to access cruise ship anchorages in all Planning Areas. Please make a booking.

Cairns Planning Area

The Cairns Planning Area extends from the Ribbon Reefs in the north to the Frankland Islands in the south. It includes all islands and reefs offshore from Port Douglas and Cairns and covers about six per cent of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The boundary of a ‘Location’ in this Area is generally 500 metres from the reef edge.

  • You are able to access the Cairns Planning Area for up to 50 days per year with a booking
  • Your super-yacht must remain outside the Locations (see Related Links)
  • You are able to anchor outside any Location and use your tender to access the Location, provided that the group size in the tender is correct for that Location (see Related Links). When accessing the Low Island Locality and Green Island Reef Localities 1, 2 and 3 tenders may only be used to transfer passengers to resorts, other vessels or reef pontoons
  • Please check the management arrangements for Sensitive Locations in the Cairns Planning Area.

Hinchinbrook Planning Area

The Hinchinbrook Planning Area extends from Dunk Island in the north to Halifax Bay in the south. This represents less than one per cent of the Marine Park. The boundary of a Location in this Area is generally 500 metres from the reef edge.

  • You are able to access the Hinchinbrook Planning Area with a booking
  • Your super-yacht must remain outside the Locations (see Related Links)
  • When using your vessel's tender:
    • You may only transport passengers between the vessel and an island, the mainland, a tourist facility in the Planning Area (for example a jetty) or somewhere outside the Planning Area. Local tourism operators are available to conduct any additional tourist activities

Whitsunday Planning Area

The Whitsunday Planning Area covers waters and islands from Cape Gloucester in the north to Repulse and Thomas Islands in the south. This Area represents about one per cent of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The boundary of a Setting in this Area is generally 1500 metres from the reef edge.

  • You are able to access the Whitsunday Planning Area for up to 50 days per year with a booking
  • Your super-yacht must remain outside the Setting areas (see Related Links)
  • When using your vessel's tender:
    • You may only transport passengers between the vessel and a tourist facility in the Planning Area (for example a jetty) or somewhere outside the Planning Area. Local tourism operators are available to conduct any additional tourist activities
    • Please check the arrangements for significant bird sites in the Whitsunday Planning Area
    • You must observe the seasonal and year round closures of significant bird sites.

Can I use my tender for tourism activities?

You can generally use your tender for additional tourist activities such as snorkelling and SCUBA diving if these activities are listed on your permit. Your tender must remain within three nautical miles of your super-yacht while conducting these additional activities. You must ensure that the group size on your tender is within the group size provided for at the location (refer to the specific Planning Areas above).

When operating in the Hinchinbrook Planning Areas, or at the Low Island Locality and Green Island Reef Localities 1, 2 and 3 of the Cairns Planning Area, tenders may only be used to transfer passengers to resorts, other vessels or reef pontoons.

Are there special rules for some activities?

For some of the activities that you are likely to conduct on your tour or charter, there are some special management arrangements. Please take the time to learn about these for

If you use helicopters or semi-submersibles please check your permit for any conditions.


What if I use a mooring?

If you are planning to use public or permitted private moorings, there is some important mooring information that you should understand.

What are compulsory pilotage areas?

To provide safer navigation through the Great Barrier Reef waters, super-yachts greater than 70 metres are required under Commonwealth law to carry a licensed pilot in designated compulsory pilotage areas. Penalties exist for both the master and the owner of the super-yacht if not obeyed. The compulsory pilotage areas are:

  • The inner route of the Great Barrier Reef Region bounded by the northern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Region, latitude 16o39.91'S, the Australian mainland and the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef
  • Hydrographer's Passage
  • The Whitsundays compulsory pilotage area.

Do I need to participate in the ReefVTS?

As your vessel has an overall length of 50 metres or greater you are required to participate in the Coastal Vessel Traffic Service (ReefVTS). This service provides vessels 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.

Other special management areas

You may not access the following Restricted Access Special Management Areas:

Refer to the Zoning Plan for further details.

Download Map

Great Barrier Reef Boundaries and the Planning Areas map - 965.4 kb

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