Maps and zoning information for Whitsundays Plan of Management

Maps

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, meaning a range of activities can be undertaken, like boating, fishing, shipping and research. 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 activities you can do in particular zones. 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 on (07) 4750 0700 or email info@gbrmpa.gov.au 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 Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23.

View more frequently asked questions about zoning.

Frequently asked 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 Zones (light blue zones), Habitat Protection Zones (dark blue zones) and Conservation Park Zones (yellow zones). Generally, no 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 Zone (pink zone)?

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

Preservation Zones (pink 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 (pink 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 Zones (light blue zones), Habitat Protection Zones (dark blue zones) and Conservation Park Zones (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 spear gun while using a snorkel. You cannot use a powerhead or other firearm, a light, or SCUBA or other underwater breathing apparatus. You also cannot have a loaded spear gun out of the water.

See the spearfishing factsheet for more information and a map showing where you are allowed to spearfish in the Whitsundays.

Whitsunday Public Appreciation Special Management Area

The Whitsunday Public Appreciation Special Management Area 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 fishing and aquaculture in the Conservation Park Zones (yellow zones) within the Whitsunday Public Appreciation Special Management Area.

These restrictions only apply to Conservation Park Zones (yellow zones) within the Whitsunday Public Appreciation Special Management Area, and not to General Use Zones (light blue zones) and Habitat Protection Zones (dark blue zones).

Spearfishing is also not allowed in any Preservation Zone (pink zone) or Marine National Park Zone (green zone). There are additional Special Management Areas that commercial fishers need to know. These are contained in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.

Queensland Government spearfishing closures

Queensland legislation also has rules for spearfishing including the Queensland Marine Parks (Great Barrier Reef Coast) Zoning Plan 2004, the Fisheries Act 1994 and the Fisheries Regulation 2008. The areas where closures apply include (for precise boundaries consult the Fisheries Regulation 2008):

  • Hayman Island
  • Hook Island
  • Lindeman Island
  • Long Island
  • Seaforth Island
  • Molle Island (also known as South Molle Island)
  • West Molle Island (also known as Daydream Island)

Note: In most cases the Queensland Fisheries legislation closures will overlap with the closures referred to in the answer to the question above Can I spearfish in the Whitsundays? Please refer to the Fisheries Regulation 2008 for detailed information.

See the spearfishing factsheet for more information and a map showing where you are allowed to spearfish in the Whitsundays.

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