Commonwealth marine reserves - Management

Consistent with the commitment for a more competitive and sustainable fisheries sector, the Australian Government will review the management plans for the Commonwealth marine reserves announced in November 2012.

The Government will be appointing a scientific review panel and bioregional advisory panels to provide advice on future marine reserve management arrangements.

Management plans

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), once a marine reserve has been proclaimed, the Director of National Parks must develop a management plan for the reserve.

Management plans provide for the protection and conservation of the marine reserves. Management plans have a maximum life of 10 years and must set out how the reserves are to be managed. The plans provide certainty about the activities that will be allowed in the reserves and must be consistent with the relevant Australian IUCN Reserve Management Principles which define how the marine reserves should be managed.

The South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves network management plan come into effect on 1 July 2013.

New management plans for the South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East Commonwealth Marine Reserve networks and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve will be developed following a review of the scientific basis underpinning the reserves and after undertaking further community consultation.

Until the new management plans come into effect transitional management arrangements are in place. Under these transitional arrangements, there are no changes "on the water" for users in the Commonwealth marine reserve estate. If people hold an existing approval to undertake activities within Commonwealth marine reserves or the now-revoked Coral Sea Conservation Zone, they are able to continue to operate under the terms of the existing approval. No additional administrative requirements apply.

Transitional management arrangements

Transitional management arrangements have been implemented for the new marine reserves to cover the period during which the statutory management plans are developed and then given effect. There will be no changes in "on the water" activity for any users during this period.

Under the EPBC Act, any activity in a marine reserve requires approval from the Director of National Parks during the period between proclamation of the reserves and the implementation of a management plan. This applies to existing commercial activities including those that involve the taking of native species (fishing). The approval from the Director of National Parks is issued under section 359B of the EPBC Act. Approval can be given to both individuals and to classes of persons, and can be issued with or without conditions on the approved activity.

Approvals to implement transitional management arrangements

The Director of National Parks has issued a number of different approvals which implement the transitional management arrangements for users of the marine reserves networks. These approvals are available on the relevant web pages for each network.

Separate approvals apply to actions in the areas of former reserves. Information on the transitional management arrangements in place for former Commonwealth marine reserves, Marine National Nature Reserves, Marine Parks and the Coral Sea Conservation Zone is available on individual reserve web pages.

Unexploded ordnance may occur at locations within Commonwealth marine reserves. For further information, please refer to the Department of Defence website at Specific advice in relation to unexploded ordnance within the Cartier Commonwealth Marine Reserve is available at