Gascoyne Commonwealth Marine Reserve

Click on the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network map or select a reserve
North-west map



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.
Overview of Gascoyne Commonwealth Marine Reserve
Area 81 766 km2
Depth range 15-6000 m (approx.)
Types of zoning
  • Multiple Use Zone - IUCN Category VI-39 057 km2
  • Habitat Protection Zone - IUCN Category IV-9272 km2
  • Marine National Park Zone - IUCN Category II-33 437 km2

Major conservation values

  • Important foraging areas for:
    • migratory seabirds
    • the threatened and migratory hawksbills and flatback turtles
    • the vulnerable and migratory whale shark
  • The reserve provides a continuous connectivity corridor from shallow depths around 15 metres out to deep offshore waters on the abyssal plain at over 5000 metres in depth
  • The reserve provides protection to many seafloor features including canyon, terrace, ridge, knolls, deep hole/valley and continental rise. It also provides protection for sponge gardens in the south of the reserve adjacent to Western Australian coastal waters
  • Examples of the ecosystems of the Central Western Shelf Transition, the Central Western Transition and the Northwest province provincial bioregions as well as the Ningaloo meso-scale bioregion
  • Three key ecological features for the region:
    • canyons on the slope between the Cuvier Abyssal Plain and the Cape Range Peninsula (enhanced productivity, aggregations of marine life and unique sea-floor feature)
    • Exmouth Plateau (unique sea-floor feature associated with internal wave generation)
    • continental slope demersal fish communities (high species diversity and endemism - the most diverse slope bioregion in Australia with over 500 species found with over 64 of those species occurring nowhere else)
  • The canyons are believed to be associated with the movement of nutrients from deep water over the Cuvier Abyssal Plain onto the slope where mixing with overlying water layers occurs at the canyon heads. These canyon heads, including that of Cloates Canyon, are sites of species aggregation and are thought to play a significant role in maintaining the ecosystems and biodiversity associated with the adjacent Ningaloo Reef
  • The reserve therefore provides connectivity between the inshore waters of the existing Ningaloo Commonwealth marine park and the deeper waters of the area