Capricorn Coast

The area offshore from Rockhampton, Gladstone and Bundaberg includes the Capricorn Bunker Island Group and the Swain Reefs complex. Its marine life is both diverse and abundant. The rich fish life supports the many species of seabirds that permanently inhabit and regularly migrate here. Seagrass beds found in sheltered bays along the coast provide important feeding grounds for dugong and five species of marine turtle.

The area is best known for its exciting dive sites, island tourist resorts and research stations. Tourism facilities and charter boat operations are well established and are of major economic importance to the region.

When operating in the region there are some key arrangements you should check.

Check zoning requirements

Zoning is one of the primary management tools for the Marine Park and it is important that you understand the zoning for the area you intend to visit. You are responsible for knowing all the zoning provisions for the location you wish to visit.

Look up the colour of the reef, island or bay you wish to visit on the zoning maps, then check the Activities Guide for what you can and can't do in the zone.

More detailed information about zoning is available on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) websites.

Check Special Management Areas

There are Special Management Areas (SMA) throughout the Marine Park. They apply specific management arrangements to an area to improve conservation of the area or to manage use. They provide an overlay to zoning and are generally marked on the zoning maps.

When you operate along the Capricorn Coast, you must be aware of the:

  • Public Appreciation Special Management Areas
    • North Keppel Island - Considine Bay (23-004)
    • Great Keppel Island - western side (23-012);
    • Heron Reef (23-052)
    • Wistari Reef (23-053)

In addition to the rules for the Conservation Park (yellow) Zone, you cannot spearfish in these areas.

  • Restricted Access Special Management Area for the waters adjacent to the One Tree Island Reef (23-055). In order to access this area, you must have a Marine Parks permit from the GBRMPA and QPWS specifically allowing that access.

Check designated Shipping Areas

If you conduct a cruise ship operation, check the designated Shipping Areas. They are an overlay to zoning and are designated to allow the navigation of ships through zones where they would otherwise not be permitted. You can locate the Shipping Area boundaries on the zoning maps.

Check site management arrangements

If you plan to visit Fitzroy Reef, Lady Elliot Island Reef and Lady Musgrave Island Reef, you can view the site management arrangements on the GBRMPA website (see Related Links near top right of page).

Check your permit

You must have a permit to operate in the Marine Park. Read your permit carefully for additional conditions about operating in the region.

Check Island National Parks

There are many island National Parks along the Capricorn coast. There may be booking and permit requirements to visit these islands, please contact your nearest QPWS office.

Check Responsible Reef Practices

For each of the activities you undertake consider how you and your clients can adopt responsible reef practices and further help protect the Reef.

Where can I get more information?

The GBRMPA, QPWS and a range of other regional contacts can help you with any questions you may have.

Download Guide

Activities Guide An introduction to zoning in the Great Barrier Reef - 99.4 kb


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