The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is an extremely vast area that incorporates a range of jurisdictions and legislation.
Any activity or development that will impact on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, whether that activity is along the coast or within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, or that may impact on any matters of National Environmental Significance, it is referred to the Federal Environment Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
The Marine Park covers 99.3 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975. However, the following areas within the World Heritage Area are not part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park:
- Approximately 980 islands (including continental islands and cays) within the boundary of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area are under Queensland jurisdiction. Over 300 of these islands are protected areas, mostly termed 'national parks', but are under Queensland jurisdiction. Other island tenures within the Great Barrier Reef include freehold, leasehold and unallocated state land.
- Internal waters of Queensland (such as some deep bays, narrow inlets or channels between islands, most of which are within the (Queensland) Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park); and
- A number of small exclusion areas (state waters) around major ports/urban centres which have not been proclaimed as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (see map 2 for an example of port limits).
The Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park
The Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park is the state marine park which runs the full length of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, providing complementary protection of Queensland's tidal lands and tidal waters to high water. The Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park is designated under the Queensland Government's Marine Parks Act 2004.
Management of islands in the World Heritage Area
There are around 1000 islands scattered throughout the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area that are Commonwealth Islands, National Park Islands, or islands with other tenure arrangements.
All other islands that fall outside of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, including National Park Islands or islands that are freehold land or have other tenure arrangements are managed under various Queensland Government jurisdictions.