Whitsundays Plan of Management

Submissions to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for the proposed amendments to the Whitsundays Plan of Management have now closed.

Thank you to everyone who made a submission, engaged with us and attended our information sessions.

Your input is appreciated — all comments will be considered and will help shape the final Whitsundays Plan of Management.

Please view the consultation toolkit to understand the proposed amendments.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is required to treat all submissions received in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988. For more information, please refer to our privacy statement and privacy policy.

What is the Whitsundays Plan of Management?

The Whitsundays is one of the Great Barrier Reef’s most highly visited regions, with the greatest concentration of activity.

While the Reef-wide Zoning Plan helps to protect plants, animals, habitat and heritage, Plans of Management allow for a finer scale level of protection and management.

Used as a key tool by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Whitsundays Plan of Management (the Plan) helps protect and conserve the Whitsunday Planning Area while allowing for a range of experiences and types of use for those who want to appreciate the area.

Watch this video to learn more about Plans of Management

Why review the Plan?

Tourism and recreational use in the Whitsunday Planning Area continually evolves and new information becomes available. To reflect and adapt to these changes, new knowledge and projected trends – while continuing to preserve environmental, social and heritage values – the Plan has been amended progressively since 1998 in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008 and now again in 2017.

Stakeholders, including tourism and recreational users, have requested increased flexibility of the Plan to accommodate and adapt to new and different activity types.

Fundamentally the elements of the Plan will not change and will continue to ensure effective management of this iconic area.

Proposed amendments

Targeted consultation with stakeholders and partners — including Traditional Owners, recreational users, and the tourism industry — has shaped the amendments for formal public consultation.

The key amendments include:

  • Updating the Plan’s values, issues and management strategies to reflect new information and future trends
  • Removing reef walking as a permitted activity
  • Further protecting seabirds at significant sites by extending no-access times for vessels and aircraft during key nesting periods
  • Offering greater flexibility with specific superyacht anchorages, more motorised water sports areas, additional scenic flight opportunities and private moorings
  • Enhancing access for cruise ships and vessels greater than 70 metres with two new anchorages near Hamilton Island and Dent Island as well as an expanded anchorage at Funnel Bay
  • Updating descriptions of management settings from ‘buffer style’ to coordinate based for greater ease of use

The proposed amendments to the Whitsundays Plan of Management will include consequential amendments to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Regulations 1983.

For a full list of proposed amendments, view the documents in the consultation toolkit.

What happens next?

After considering public comments, the Plan and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 will be finalised and provided to the Marine Park Authority Board and Federal Executive Council for approval.

Staged implementation of the Plan will then occur, with any changes communicated to those who are affected by the approved final amendments. 

Important note: The existing Plan continues to be in force until the revised Plan is approved and implemented.

More information

For further information about the Whitsundays Plan of Management review process please email consultation@gbrmpa.gov.au

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