Whitsundays Plan of Management

The Whitsundays is well known for its spectacular island scenery, fringing and offshore reefs. The area supports a range of wildlife including threatened species such as humpback whales, dugong, loggerhead turtles and beach-stone curlews. The Whitsundays region is one of the most highly visited regions of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Whitsunday Plan of Management is a key tool for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in protecting the plants, animals and habitats of the Whitsundays region.

The Plan was established in 1998 and in conjunction with Reef-wide zoning outlines how tourism and recreation in the Whitsundays can be managed to provide for a range of user experiences – from popular tourist destinations to low key nature based experiences.

Minor amendments have been made to the Plan in 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2008.

Plan of management review

GBRMPA is undertaking a review of the Whitsunday Plan of Management (the Plan) in 2015. Since the last amendment, there’s been a range of changes in how the area is used and more detailed information on the outlook of the Reef. Future needs for the area will also be considered.

Several matters have already been raised in the initial scoping stage including motorised water sports, aircraft landing areas and superyacht access.


GBRMPA are in the early stages of meeting with stakeholders and gathering information to inform the development of the proposals to be considered for amendment. Further research and consultation will take place during the year to inform the amendments.  The plan will then be formally released for public comment later in the year.

The final plan must consider public feedback. A plan of management is a legislative instrument and therefore must be approved by the Marine Park Authority Board and is subject to disallowance by Parliament like other legislative instruments. It is also likely that consequential updates to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations will be required. 

For further information please email consultation@gbrmpa.gov.au.

Tourism operators

Visit: Onboard - the tourism operator's handbook to the Great Barrier Reef

Recreational visitors

Visit: A guide to visiting the Whitsundays for recreational users

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