Mermaid Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve

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North-west map



Transitional arrangements

Until a new management plan comes into effect there will be no changes to management arrangements for the renamed Mermaid Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

  • Transitional arrangements involve NO CHANGE ON THE WATER for marine users.
  • If you hold an existing approval to undertake activities within the renamed Mermaid Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve, you are able to continue to operate under the terms of your existing approval.
  • No additional administrative requirements apply.
Diving at Mermaid Reef

Diving at Mermaid Reef

 Mermaid Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve (previously named Mermaid Reef Marine National Nature Reserve) forms part of the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Transitional management arrangements apply until the management plan for the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network comes into effect.

The Mermaid Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve is located about 150 nautical miles (290 km) north-west of Broome, Western Australia, near the edge of Australia's continental slope and is surrounded by waters that extend to a depth of over 500 metres. Mermaid Reef is the most north-easterly of three reef systems forming the Rowley Shoals. It is totally submerged at high tide and therefore falls under Australian Government jurisdiction. The other two reefs of the Rowley Shoals, Clerke Reef and Imperieuse Reef, are managed by the Western Australian Government as part of the Rowley Shoals Marine Park.

Mermaid Reef is listed on Australia's Commonwealth Heritage List.

Original Proclamation Date 21 March 1991, now renamed Mermaid Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve
Area 540 km2
Depth range 15-500 m (approx.)
Types of zoning IUCN Category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve

Major conservation values

  • Mermaid Reef has national and international significance due to its pristine character, coral formations, geomorphic features and diverse marine life.
  • Key area for over 200 species of hard corals and 12 classes of soft corals with coral formations in pristine condition
  • Important areas for sharks including the grey reef shark, the whitetip reef shark and the silvertip whaler
  • Important foraging area for marine turtles
  • Important area for toothed whales, dolphins, tuna and billfish
  • Important resting and feeding sites for migratory seabirds
  • The reserve, along with nearby Rowley Shoals Marine Park, provides the best geological example of shelf atolls in Australia
  • Examples of the seafloor habitats and communities of the Northwest Transition.