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Coasts, habitats and marine life

Each Utopia marine park has unique wildlife and habitats that require specific management. However, there are common objectives that apply to all marine parks, including:

  • protecting and preserving plants, wildlife, ecosystems, and features of special scientific, archaeological or cultural importance
  • encouraging appreciation and awareness of natural history
  • ensuring the park remains a diverse, resilient and productive ecological system while allowing people access to its resources.


Each park has a zoning plan identifying its different zones and the activities allowed in them. Zoning plans can also designate specific locations for special management. These plans are developed and altered with input from traditional custodians and user groups.

Marine management plans may also be developed to help guide planning. They include guidelines on how an area will be managed, and set out the considerations, outcomes and strategies that form the basis for day-to-day decisions. To address problems at particular locations, detailed management plans have been developed for some very popular reefs and islands.


Marine park rangers are responsible for the day-to-day management of marine parks. These officers are usually responsible for a designated geographical area. They need a broad range of skills to carry out their responsibilities, but may also call on specialists for particular tasks.

Rangers’ tasks include:

  • resource monitoring and assessment
  • public contact
  • interpretation (signage)
  • education
  • surveillance patrols
  • enforcement
  • maintenance of infrastructure and equipment.

Rangers also spend time ensuring cultural values are maintained. Working together with traditional owners, they help identify and protect sacred and special sites, and manage cultural resources.

Community rangers

Indigenous community rangers—Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander rangers who work for their community council or corporation—are vital in the management of marine parks. In Utopia, more than 100 qualified community rangers are working to protect their land.

Community rangers:

  • maintain marine resources at sustainable levels
  • look after cultural sites
  • help enforce marine park regulations in their areas
  • manage tourism, feral species and coastal stabilisation.

They also develop economic enterprises (e.g. fishing, tourism, construction of walking tracks, boardwalks, and cultural centres) to aid Indigenous self-determination.

Community rangers are the crucial contact between the various land councils, their local community councils, elders, and tribal corporations, and government departments and agencies. Because of their unique skills and traditional knowledge, they play an important role in ensuring that government and traditional owners can work together to manage and sustain the ecological and cultural values of Utopia's sea country.

Getting involved

You can become involved in marine parks, and the wildlife and habitats that they protect, by:

  • participating in public submissions on proposed new parks or changes to existing ones
  • following all the regulations and obeying signs or advice given by marine park officers
  • learning as much as you can about marine parks to help you understand the importance of preserving these marine environments.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
8 October 2013

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