Frequently asked questions about zoning

Where can I get information about zoning?

Zoning maps and an introductory guide explaining zoning and responsible reef practices are available free of charge from bait and tackle shops, Community Access Points, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and by contacting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on 1800 990 177.

Can I travel through a Green Zone with fish onboard?

Travelling through a Marine National Park (Green) Zone with fish onboard is allowed, provided the fish were caught outside the Green Zone. Anyone (with the exception of unattached dories*) can enter a Marine National Park (Green) Zone and participate in activities such as swimming, snorkelling and sailing. Fishing gear such as rods with attached hooks, must be stowed inboard the boat or in rod holders. All fishing apparatus must be out of the water.

* Dories are vessels used in association with a primary (mother) commercial fishing vessel that is either licenced, permitted or used to fish on a commercial basis under a Commonwealth, State or Territory law. Dories must be attached to a primary vessel at all times while in a Marine National Park (Green) Zone.

How must my fishing gear be stowed or secured to travel through a Green Zone?

You can travel through a Marine National Park (Green) Zone with fishing gear on board provided that all fishing lines are stowed or secured; that is, any line or hand-held rod is inboard the boat or in rod holders. While a hook can still be attached to a line, no part of any fishing gear may be in the water.

If a commercial trawl fishing vessel is navigating through a zone where trawling is prohibited, any equipment that is used for fishing must be stowed or secured in accordance with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983

What happens if I unknowingly drift into a Green Zone while fishing?

Fishing, unknowingly or not, is not allowed within a Marine National Park (Green) Zone. Fishing or collecting in a Green Zone may only occur if written permission is obtained from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Where can I get the coordinates for the no-fishing zones?

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) provides coordinates on the 1:250,000 maps for the majority of no-fishing zones (Green Zones or Pink Zones) in the Marine Park. The coordinates for any individual zone, including Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones, may also be obtained by:

  • Using the mapping tool available from the home page, where you can generate maps for a particular area.
  • Looking for the relevant zone in Schedule 1 in the back of the Zoning Plan (to assist you, the identification numbers on the Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones and more restrictive Zones on the 1:250,000 maps, correlate with the location number in Schedule 1 to the Zoning Plan).
  • Downloading zone coordinates in an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Ringing the GBRMPA on free call 1800 990 177.
Where are the coordinates for inshore zones?

As far as possible, zone boundaries along the coast have been aligned to recognisable coastal features. To the extent possible, the shapes are also simple and line up north-south or east-west. However, if there is any confusion, refer to the specific zone coordinates in Schedule 1 to the Zoning Plan.

How do I access map coordinates if I don’t own a computer?

You can ring the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on freecall 1800 990 177 and ask for specific coordinates to be sent to you.  If you are seeking a large number of coordinates, a copy of the Zoning Plan including the Schedule of all zone boundaries may be more appropriate.

How do I know where the zones are if my boat doesn’t have navigational/plotting equipment?

If you don’t own a GPS (Global Positioning System), you will still be able to navigate and determine the location of most zones. Most Marine National Park (Green) Zones and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones close to the coast are simple shapes and the boundaries can usually be lined up with headlands or landmarks on the coast or on islands. The detailed map series (1:250,000 scale) is the best source of information in this case and every attempt has been made to provide reference to geographic features to assist users.

Offshore, the majority of zones are large, but if you have any doubt, ensure you stay well away from any no-fishing zones. Using a GPS for navigating zones is recommended where other markers are not visible.

What is the difference between line fishing in a Yellow Zone and line fishing in Light and Dark Blue Zones?

Line fishing using not more than three hand-held rods or handlines per person with a combined number of not more than six hooks attached to the line(s) is allowed in General Use (Light Blue) and Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) Zones. In the Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone, line fishing is limited to one hand-held rod or hand-held line per person, with no more than one hook per line (note also the definition of a hook below).

No more than one dory is to be detached from its primary commercial fishing vessel in the Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone.

What restrictions are placed on trolling in Light Blue, Dark Blue, Yellow and Olive Green Zones?

Trolling means fishing by means of a line or lines trailed behind a vessel that is underway using no more than three lines per person (with no more than six hooks per person in total).

Trolling is allowed in the General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue), Conservation Park (Yellow), and Buffer (Olive Green) Zones. In the Buffer (Olive Green) Zone, trolling is limited to the take of pelagic species only including species of trevally, scad, queenfish, rainbow runner, dolphinfish, black kingfish or cobia; barracuda, sailfish, marlin, swordfish, mackerel, tuna, bonito, wahoo, small-toothed jobfish, and green jobfish.

There are limits placed on the number of hooks allowed per line in some zones, does a multi-hooked lure or gang hook, for example, count as more than one hook?

There is a limit, throughout the Marine Park, of using no more than six hooks per person. In the Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone, the limit is one hook and one line per person. In addition to its ordinary meaning, a hook means:

  • A single-shanked double or treble hook; or 
  • A lure (an artificial bait with not more than three hooks attached to it); or
  • An artificial fly; or
  • A jig for taking squid; or
  • A bait jig, which is a hook or group of hooks consisting of no more than six hooks, each hook being of a size between number 1 and number 12 (both inclusive) or their equivalent; or
  • A ganged-hook set, consisting of no more than six hooks, each of which is in contact with at least one of the other hooks in the set. 

View diagram of hook definitions [PDF 1.42 MB]

Why can I spearfish in some Yellow Zones, but not others?

Limited spearfishing is a fishing activity with appropriate limits and has, therefore, been allowed in most Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones. Limited spearfishing means fishing with a spear or spear gun not using a power head, a firearm, light or underwater breathing apparatus other than a snorkel. However, all spearfishing is prohibited in Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones that are declared Public Appreciation Special Management Areas. Public Appreciation Areas are multiple-use areas where there is potential for conflict between user groups for example near resorts, dive sites, pontoons. These areas are shown as broken pink lines on the zoning maps.

Contact Fisheries Queensland on 13 25 23 for more information about additional spearfishing restrictions.

Where is the inshore boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park?

The inshore boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park follows the coastline of Queensland at low water except where otherwise indicated on the maps (such as port areas), or Queensland waters such as tidal lands and tidal waters (that is, between high and low water).

Virtually all rivers, creeks and estuaries are considered to be Queensland waters, as are internal waters like Hinchinbrook Channel.

As a general rule of thumb, the low water mark is best defined as the area that commonly dries at low tide. If you are fishing between that point and the normal high tide point, then you are likely to be fishing in Queensland waters and outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

You however must be aware of the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park in Queensland waters. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park generally adopt complementary zoning. This means that activities that can be carried out within the two Marine Parks are usually the same, however, there are some Queensland Government specific provisions that may apply in the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park.

Are the zoning boundaries available for electronic chart plotters?

Yes. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has supplied boundary information to the major electronic chart companies and GPS manufacturers for incorporation into their products.  Check with your manufacturer.

How does the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority enforce zoning?

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority works with the Australian and Queensland Governments to ensure compliance and protect the Marine Park from illegal activities.

Boat and aircraft patrols operate in the Marine Park on a daily basis, checking on activities and monitoring ecological conditions.

Penalties apply for individuals who enter or use a zone for purposes other than that allowed for in a zoning plan.

Who can I address any other questions to?
If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions about zoning, please contact the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on free call 1800 990 177 or email info@gbrmpa.gov.au.

If you have any queries about State waters

Department of Environment and Resource Management.

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