Maps and zoning information for Whitsundays Plan of Management


What you need to know about zoning in the Whitsundays

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Australian Government) and Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park (Queensland Government) are multiple-use areas. Zoning plans help to manage and protect the values of the Marine Parks that users enjoy.

The Australian Government's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003 and the Queensland Government's Marine Parks (Great Barrier Reef Coast) Zoning Plan 2004 define the activities that can occur in specific locations both to protect the marine environment and to separate potentially conflicting activities.

It is important that you are aware of the zone you are in while you are on the water, so take time to check where you are going and what you can do there. Zoning information and the activities guide help you know what you can do in each zone. Please refer to it carefully before taking part in any activities in the Marine Parks.

Please note: the activities that can be carried out within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park are generally the same, however there may be some differences. Refer to the relevant zoning plans for further details.

Get your free zoning map for the Whitsundays region from bait and tackle shops, ship chandlers, visitor information centres and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service offices. Alternatively, phone the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 1800 990 177 or email to request a copy. Make sure you take your map with you and consult it regularly. Fines apply for breaching Marine Park legislation.

In zones where fishing is allowed, Queensland fisheries legislation also applies. For information about fisheries legislation, contact the Fisheries Queensland on 13 25 23.

Frequently ask questions

Q. Can I collect souvenirs?

A. You may want to keep a memento of your visit to the Whitsundays, but you may be inadvertently taking a creature's home or, in worst cases, taking a living animal from its habitat. However, limited collecting is allowed in General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones. Generally, not more than five of any one species can be taken at a time and no coral (alive or dead) can be taken without a permit. Protected species may not be taken - these include seahorses, pipefish, giant clams, helmet shells and giant triton shells.

Q. Can I walk on the reef flat?

A. The reef is very vulnerable to damage and you should try to walk on it as little as possible. If you are walking over the reef flat, tread lightly and be aware you are actually walking in an area teeming with marine life. Look out for dangerous animals such as cone shells, stinging hydroids and stonefish.

Q. Can I enter a Preservation (Pink) Zone?

A. Access into Preservation Zones is not permitted without formal written permission from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), except in an emergency. Extractive activities are strictly prohibited.

Preservation Zones provide for a high level of protection for special and unique places, habitats, plants and animals in the Marine Park. In the Whitsundays, a Preservation Zone exists around Eshelby Island, to protect important seabird breeding and roosting habitat, as well as substantial fringing coral reefs.

Q. Can I spearfish in the Whitsundays?

A. Limited spearfishing is allowed in General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones, except for those Yellow Zones that are within the Whitsunday Public Appreciation Special Management Area.

Limited spearfishing means fishing with a spear or speargun not using a powerhead, firearm, light or underwater breathing apparatus other than a snorkel. You must not use a light when spearfishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

View more frequently asked questions about zoning.

Whitsunday Public Appreciation Special Management Area

The Whitsunday Public Appreciation Special Management Area (SMA) exists to ensure there are opportunities for appreciation of the area by the public and to separate potentially conflicting activities in high use areas.

The area is depicted on the zoning map as a pink dashed line. This area prohibits all spearfishing, commercial harvest (dive-based) fishing and aquaculture in the Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones within the Public Appreciation SMA.

These restrictions only apply to Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones within the SMA, and not to General Use (Light Blue) and Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) Zones.

Spearfishing is also not allowed in any Preservation (Pink) or Marine National Park (Green) Zone. There are additional SMAs that commercial fishers need to be aware of. These are contained in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.

Queensland Government spearfishing closures

In addition to the above spearfishing restrictions in the Public Appreciation SMA, spearfishing is also prohibited in the following areas under Queensland Fisheries legislation (for precise boundaries consult the Fisheries Regulation 2008):

  • Hayman Island (western and southern sides)
  • Hook Island (eastern, south-eastern and southern sides)
  • Lindeman Island (western and southern sides)
  • Long Island (western side)
  • Seaforth Island
  • South Molle Island (northern side)
  • West Molle Island (Daydream Island - surrounding waters)
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