Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve

The Coral Sea marine region is a remote ocean ecosystem recognised for its unique physical, ecological and heritage values. The environmental significance of the Coral Sea lies in its diverse array of coral reefs, sandy cays, deep sea plains and canyons. The Coral Sea islands and associated reefs support critical nesting sites for the green turtle and a range of seabird species such as noddies, terns, boobies, frigatebirds and tropic birds.

The reefs are also renowned for the diverse range of predatory fish such as albacore, yellowfin and bigeye tuna, broadbill swordfish, marlin and sharks that regularly pass through them. The Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve protects the waters of the Coral Sea that fall within Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone.


Transitional arrangements

Until a management plan comes into effect transitional arrangements apply.

  • Under the transitional arrangements, there are NO CHANGES ON THE WATER for users of new areas added to the Commonwealth marine reserves estate.
  • NOTE: There are no changes to management arrangements in the marine reserves that existed prior to the establishment of the new reserves, that is, the same restrictions on activities will continue to apply even where those reserves have been incorporated into new reserves.

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Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve

The new Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve covers 989 842 km2 and is an important national asset in near pristine condition. The reserve will be managed for the primary purpose of conserving the biodiversity found in it, while also allowing for the sustainable use of natural resources in some areas. The reserve includes the different marine ecosystems and habitats of the Coral Sea marine region and will help ensure our marine environment remains healthy and is more resilient to the effects of climate change and other pressures.

The Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve will provide additional protection for many species listed as endangered or vulnerable under Commonwealth legislation or international agreements, including the endangered loggerhead and leatherback turtles and the critically endangered Herald petrel. The reserve also supports the world's only confirmed spawning aggregation of black marlin.

Sites of high productivity in the reserve, such as those around seamounts, are important aggregators for a range of species including lanternfish, albacore tuna, billfish and sharks. Large marine mammals journey hundreds or even thousands of kilometres to breed in the reserve, or to travel through en route to breeding areas.

The new Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve encompasses the former Coral Sea Conservation Zone, former Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve and former Lihou Reef National Nature Reserve. Transitional management arrangements apply until a management plan for the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve is in place.

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