About Marine Park permits

Activities within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Queensland's Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park are regulated by permits.

Most activities on the Queensland mainland and islands (above high tide) or in port exclusion zones are outside the Marine Parks.

When do you need a Marine Parks permit?

As a general guide, a permit is required for these activities:

  • Most commercial activities, including tourist operations
  • Installing, operating or repairing structures, such as jetties, marinas, pontoons
  • Aquaculture facilities
  • Dredging and dumping of dredge material
  • Waste discharge from a fixed structure
  • Placing and operating moorings
  • Anchoring or mooring for an extended period
  • Research, except for limited impact research
  • Educational programs.

As a general guide, these activities do not usually require a Marine Parks permit:

If you are unsure or need clarification, contact us on 1800 990 770 or (07) 4750 0700.

Structure of a permit

Marine Parks permits are usually two permits in the one document. They grant permission for activities in both the state marine parks (under the Queensland Marine Parks Act 2004) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (under the Commonwealth Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975).

New permits, if granted, are generally for one year. This allows time to establish the operation, and provides the applicant and Marine Park managers an opportunity for review.

Existing permit holders who apply to continue the same operation and satisfy assessment requirements are generally granted a permit for six to 15 years, depending on activities to be conducted and level of certification.

Deeds of agreement

Most standard tourism and research permits do not require a deed of agreement. Permits that contain a structure/facility, or are classified as medium to high risk, may require a two or three party deed of agreement. This deed binds the permit holder to certain obligations, such as:

  • indemnifying the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • maintaining adequate insurance
  • ensuring removal of structures and clean-up of the site of operations if directed
  • the payment of a bond for structures other than vessel moorings.

Changes/variations to permits

If an operation changes in any way, an application must be submitted to vary the conditions of the existing permit or seek a new permit. 

Changes may include adding or changing a vessel, undertaking different activities, operating in different locations or changing a name on the permit.

Transfer of permits

Permits which attract the environmental management charge may be transferred.

These include permits for tourist operations, tourist facilities (for example marinas, pontoons) aquaculture and sewage discharge into the Marine Park.

Applications to transfer Marine Parks permits are subject to approval from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and cannot occur if the permit is suspended, has been revoked or has expired (including where the permit has been extended while assessment of an application for a further permit is underway).

A transfer application form must be completed and submitted to assessments@gbrmpa.gov.au at least 20 business days prior to the proposed transfer date.

Suspension and revocation

A Marine Parks permit can be suspended or revoked. This may happen, for example, when the permitted activity causes damage to the Marine Park, the permit holder fails to comply with a permit condition, or any environmental management charge is overdue for payment.  

Maximum penalties for failing to comply with a Marine Parks permit are $22,000 for an individual and $110,000 for a body corporate. Vessels and other equipment (including catch) may also be seized and forfeited with a court order.

Review rights

A permit holder has the right to request that we reconsider any decision made about a permit application. Third parties can also seek a reconsideration.

A request for reconsideration must be made with 21 days of gazettal of the decision.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the subsequent reconsideration, you have a further right to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the reconsidered decision. This right also applies to third parties.