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Marine parks

Marine parks are established to protect tidal lands and waters and conserve the natural marine environment while allowing for its sustainable use. They protect habitats, including mangrove wetlands, seagrass beds, mudflats, sandbanks, beaches, rocky outcrops and fringing reefs.

Park boundaries can include tidal lands and waters up to the highest astronomical tide (these are tides caused by the sun and moon only—not other factors). These parks include the subsoil below and airspace above their boundaries, and the plants and animals within them.

Australia’s first marine park was established in 1937 at Green Island, with the second declared over Heron and Wistari reefs in 1974.

There are three state marine parks in Utopia:

Where an activity is within the Great Barrier Reef (Coast) Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, a joint permit may be issued by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Utopia Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS).

Marine park permits

You may need a permit to carry out activities in a marine park. Marine park zoning plans are used to list the activities that are unrestricted, allowed with a permit, or prohibited.

Activities you may need a permit for include:

  • tourism programs
  • commercial whale watching
  • construction of jetties and pontoons
  • installation and operation of structure, including moorings
  • maintenance, such as repairs to structures
  • dredging and disposal of dredged material
  • beach nourishment
  • waste discharge from a fixed structure
  • anchoring and mooring for an extended period
  • education programs
  • research
  • media activities
  • flying an aircraft
  • operating a hovercraft or hydrofoil
  • collecting marine plants or animals
  • traditional hunting.

Permits help marine park managers to:

  • limit impacts on high-use and sensitive areas
  • separate potentially conflicting activities
  • collect data for management plans
  • monitor activities that may, over time, damage the marine park
  • provide guidelines for activities
  • encourage all marine park users to behave responsibly.


Works involve minimal disturbance to the substrate or aquatic communities, or minor alienation of parts of the marine park from enjoyment by the public.

Examples of minor works include:

  • installation, maintenance or removal of pile and buoy moorings, pontoons, jetties, boat ramps, interpretive facilities, or other simple structures
  • drainage works
  • dredge spoil disposal
  • beach nourishment and protection
  • foreshore modification, including revetments.

Major works

Major works are only relevant for Moreton Bay Marine Park.

Major works are activities that are inconsistent with the objects for the zone in which the works are being, or proposed to be, carried out, and are likely to have a significant impact on an area of the marine park.

Examples of major works include:

  • port and harbour works, including building a breakwater or berthing and terminal facility
  • airport works, including building a runway or terminal
  • reclamation works
  • developmental dredging of a navigation channel or boat harbour
  • building works, including a sand loading facility, marina, wharf, or submarine pipeline.

Environmental offsets

An environmental offset may be required as a condition of approval where, following consideration of avoidance and mitigation measures, the activity is likely to result in a significant residual impact on prescribed environmental matters. The delivery of these offsets can include a financial settlement, a “proponent-driven” offset, or a combination of the two. Environmental offsets are only required in highly protected zones of marine parks, i.e. Conservation park zones and Marine national park zones.

Read more about environmental offsets.

Transfer of marine park permits

Marine park permits may be transferred. An application form must be submitted and signed by the proposed transferee. A letter or email from the current permit holder stating their intention to sell the permit, and the proposed transferee stating their intention to purchase it, must also be submitted.

How to apply

Before applying, please contact the department to discuss your proposed activity or to schedule a meeting. The department can provide advice about your application such as information and support documents you will need to supply, and timeframes you will need to meet.

For marine parks works applications, please email

For all other marine park enquiries, please email

Submitting your application

Marine parks works

Please send the completed application form Permit for (State only) Marine Parks Application Form with any attachments to

All other marine park activities

Please send the completed application form Permit for (State only) Marine Parks Application Form with any attachments to

Supporting documentation

Documentation that may be required to assess your application can include maps of where the activity is proposed to take place, additional information describing the activity, environmental impact statements and management plans, and drawings of the proposed structure.

Application processing time

You must be issued with a permit before you can begin your activity. Assessment of your application can take up to 40 business days. If more information is required, an additional 20 business days may be added to the processing time.


Fees may apply for the assessment of permit applications. These are listed in Schedule 3 of the Marine Parks Regulation 2006.  


The Marine Parks Act 2004 commenced on 31 August 2006, together with the Marine Parks Regulation 2006 and Marine Parks (Declaration) Regulation 2006.

Read more about the three state marine park zoning plans:

Fishing in marine parks

Fishing is prohibited in some marine park zones. Please contact your local QPWS office or consult the relevant zoning plan for information on fishing restrictions in these areas.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
9 July 2015

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