North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network - Overview


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 the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network
Name North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network
Network area 335 437 km2
Depth range 15 - 5000 m
Reserves 13 reserves (ranging in size from 304 to 146 000 km2)
Types of zoning
  • Sanctuary Zone (IUCN Category Ia) -1262 km2 or 0.38% of the network
  • Marine National Park Zone (IUCN Category II) - 103 082 km2 or 30.73% of the network
  • Recreational Use Zone (IUCN Category II) - 2469 or 0.74% of the network
  • Habitat Protection Zone (IUCN Category IV) - 17 682 km2 or 5.27% of the network
  • Multiple Use Zone (IUCN Category VI) - 210 943 km2 or 62.89% of the network

Key conservation values

Whale shark - Ningaloo

Whale shark - Ningaloo - the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network includes foraging habitat for whale sharks

  • Seasonal calving habitat for the world's largest population of the humpback whale
  • Foraging and inter-nesting habitat for olive ridley, green, flatback, loggerhead and hawksbill marine turtles
  • Foraging habitat for the whale shark, several species of sea snake, sawfish and for several species of migratory seabirds
  • Biologically-important areas for several whale species, including the Australian snubfin dolphin and humpback whales
  • Protection for coral reefs in Commonwealth waters adjacent to the Kimberley with additional protection for Rowley Shoals and Ningaloo reefs
  • Eight key ecological features are included, fully or in part, in the marine reserve network
  • Eight provincial bioregions, nine meso-scale bioregions, 81 depth ranges within provincial bioregions, and 15 seafloor types represented in the network.