All fishing activities are required to comply with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003, with approximately 67 per cent of the Marine Park available for various types of fishing.

The direct management of most fishing activities in the Great Barrier Reef is the responsibility of the Queensland Government.This includes licences, fish size, possession limits and seasonal closures.

Commercial fishers operating in the Marine Park require a licence and, in some cases, a permit.

They may also be required to meet national standards to gain approval for export under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Recreational fishers are subject to size and possession (bag) limits and to seasonal and spawning closures.

Ecosystem based management

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is moving towards an ecosystem based management framework to manage the plants, animals and habitats in the Marine Park.

This approach emphasises the health of the whole ecosystem and seeks to manage human impacts to restore and protect the resilience overall through the use of a range of management and protection activities.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's approach to this includes:

  • Using a precautionary approach
  • Developing a shared vision amongst stakeholders
  • Utilising adaptive processes (management and planning)
  • Utilising co-management and partnerships
  • Effectively educating communities and schools
  • Integrating between and across government
  • Obtaining and using best available science and monitoring
  • Working within a sound legislative framework
  • Ensuring sufficient capacity and resourcing
  • Transparent and accountable decision making.

A combination of these actions will help to maintain biodiversity, maintain or increase resilience, and maintain ecologically sustainable use and ensure ecosystem health and integrity.