Accredited educational and research institutions

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003 provides for ‘as of right’ research to be conducted in the Marine Park without the written permission of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, providing certain conditions are satisfied.

One such condition is that the research is part of a research project by an accredited educational or research institution.

Under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983, the agency may accredit an educational or research institution, by publication of a notice in the Gazette, if it is satisfied the institution:

  • has adopted appropriate environmental practices and standards (including training personnel)
  • has an ongoing commitment to improve those practices and standards.

Generally, throughout the Marine Park, researchers from accredited educational or research institutions will be allowed to conduct:

  • social research that does not involve the conduct of maritime archaeology excavations
  • limited impact research (extractive) and limited impact research (non-extractive) in the General Use, Habitat Protection, Conservation Park and Scientific Research Zones
  • limited impact research (non-extractive) in the Buffer and Marine National Park Zones.


Before the accreditation of an educational or research institution can be considered, the agency will require the institution  to enter into a memorandum of understanding.

The institution is also expected to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to improve practice standards through a regular review and by incorporating new information about best environmental practice.

An accredited institution must also demonstrate a commitment to training researchers working in the Marine Park about the memorandum of understanding.

Once an institution is accredited, all employees and affiliated staff conducting research under the auspices of the institution are allowed to conduct limited impact research without a permit. This is subject to compliance with the memorandum of understanding, the code of conduct (developed by each institution), the Zoning Plan, associated regulations for limited impact research (extractive and non-extractive), and all other legislation covering research activities in the Marine Park.

The institution must be satisfied the research personnel are aware of compliance requirements.

The institution will also need to issue each researcher or other staff undertaking research with a letter of authorisation on the letterhead of the institution. This letter will need to name the person or persons covered by the authorisation, and detail the time frame and nature of the research.

This letter must be carried with the research personnel or held on the vessel that they are working on.

If the letter of authorisation cannot be produced when required by a Marine Park compliance officer, the researcher or other personnel are liable to be prosecuted for breaching the Zoning Plan.

Researchers will still be required to gain permits from other agencies where it is appropriate. For example:

  • A research permit from the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing may be required for research in state Marine Park waters
  • A permit is required from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries if researchers are collecting above the recreational bag limits.

 Accredited institutions

These educational and research institutions are currently accredited:



  • Free Zoning Maps

    Zoning maps

    If you're heading out on the water, don't forget your free Zoning Map so you know where you can go and what you can do.

  • Important milestone

    40 years anniversary

    We're delighted to celebrate the 40 years of the managing the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Visit the Reef

    fish on reef

    Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing animals, plants, and habitats.

  • What you can do

    purple coral

    Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this great Australian icon.

  • Report marine strandings


    If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)

  • Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef

    Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef vulnerability assessment cover image

    A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.