Protecting the world-renowned beauty and biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and ensuring a level playing field for all of its users are key aims of the compliance management undertaken by the Australian and Queensland governments’ joint Field Management Program.

Compliance with Marine Park and other environmental legislation in the World Heritage Area is coordinated by a central unit – the Field Management Compliance Unit. A number of Australian and Queensland agencies participate in the compliance and surveillance program, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol, Queensland Water Police and Maritime Border Command.

The compliance program for the World Heritage Area includes education, aircraft, vessel and land-based surveillance, remote vessel tracking and audits of activities that require a permit. The aim is to achieve high levels of voluntary compliance, while also maintaining a strong enforcement approach to deter and detect illegal activity.

Compliance with Marine Park zoning

Marine Park zoning is designed to protect and conserve the health and biodiversity of the ecosystem. Zoning helps protect important fish breeding and nursery habitats such as seagrasses, mangroves and shoals. Protecting the World Heritage Area from the impacts of unlawful fishing and other activities is something that we can all help ensure by sticking to the rules and reporting those who don’t.

Free zoning maps are available at bait and tackle shops, visitor information centres, boating stores and at Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol offices. Alternatively, free zoning maps can be downloaded from this website or are available from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority by calling 1800 990 177.

You need to ensure you know where you are at all times. The best way to do this is to have a zoning map, use a GPS to monitor your location, have a GPS with marine park zoning charts, ensure you know how zones are displayed, and if necessary cross check your location with a zoning map. Visit the zoning webpage for more information on marine park zoning.

The Queensland Recreational Fishing app provides information on fishing, zoning and other regulations and can be used to keep an eye on your location within zones. It can be downloaded on iTunes or GooglePlay.

Enforcement and penalties

Surveillance patrols run day and night and are undertaken by a number of agencies and include large offshore and small inshore vessel patrols, fixed-wing aircrafts, helicopters and land-based patrols.

Incidents of illegal activity are addressed through warning letters and infringement notices for matters of a less serious nature, whilst investigations and court prosecution are used for more serious and illegal commercial activity.

Penalties for offences against Marine Park and other environmental legislation are substantial and reflect the environmental value of the World Heritage Area and the significant impact that illegal activity can have. Common offences and penalties include:

  • Fishing in the Marine National Park (Green) Zone has a possible maximum penalty of 1000 penalty units (currently equivalent to $222,000) if prosecuted in court, or can be addressed by way of an infringement notice of 10 penalty units (=$2220).
  • Fishing in the Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone using more than 1 line, one hook, per person carries a possible maximum penalty of 1000 penalty units (currently equivalent to $222,000) if prosecuted in court, or can be addressed by way of an infringement notice of 4 penalty units (=$888).

Reporting suspected illegal activity

The Field Management Program endeavours to work with Marine Park users to promote and improve compliance. The local community and those who use the World Heritage Area for commercial or recreational purposes play an important role in compliance and activities.

If you observe a suspected incident of illegal activity, please report it to the Field Management Compliance Unit by calling 1800 380 048 (24 hour) or via the online incident report form. Do not approach or confront persons you believe to be committing an offence, or overtly take photographs or, record vessel or offender details.