Commonwealth marine areas

The Commonwealth marine area is any part of the sea, including the waters, seabed, and airspace, within Australia's exclusive economic zone and/or over the continental shelf of Australia, that is not State or Northern Territory waters.

The Commonwealth marine area stretches from 3 to 200 nautical miles from the coast. Marine protected areas are marine areas which are recognised to have high conservation value.

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Protecting Commonwealth marine areas

Commonwealth marine areas are matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act.

An action will require approval if the:

  • action is taken in a Commonwealth marine area and the action has, will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on the environment or
  • action is taken outside a Commonwealth marine area and the action has, will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on the environment in a Commonwealth marine area

The action must be referred to the Minister and undergo an environmental assessment and approval process.