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Guide for Current Permit Holders

A guide for current permit holders, developed with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, can help you understand how to be a responsible permit holder and know the general requirements when operating in the Marine Parks.

Activities within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Queensland's Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park are regulated by permits.

Most activities on the Queensland mainland and islands (above high tide) or in port exclusion zones are outside the Marine Parks.

When do you need a Marine Parks permit?

  • Most commercial activities, including tourist operations
  • Installing, operating or repairing structures, such as jetties, marinas, pontoons
  • Aquaculture facilities
  • Dredging and dumping of dredge material
  • Waste discharge from a fixed structure
  • Placing and operating moorings
  • Anchoring or mooring for an extended period
  • Research, except for limited impact research
  • Educational programs.


If you are unsure or need clarification, contact us on 1800 990 770 or (07) 4750 0700.

Structure of a permit

Marine Parks permits are usually two permits in one document. They grant permission for activities in both the state marine parks (under the Queensland Marine Parks Act 2004) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (under the Commonwealth Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975).

Permits are granted for a specific term based on the type of activity being sought and its risk to the values of the Marine Parks. 

For tourism permit holders who apply and satisfy assessment requirements, permits are generally granted for eight to twenty years, depending on the activities to be conducted and the level of certification.

Deeds of agreement

Most standard tourism and research permits do not require a deed of agreement. Permits that contain a structure/facility or are classified as medium to high risk may require a two or three-party deed of agreement. This deed binds the permit holder to certain obligations, such as:


  • indemnifying the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • maintaining adequate insurance
  • ensuring removal of structures and clean-up of the site of operations if directed
  • the payment of a bond for structures other than vessel moorings.

Changes/variations to permits

If an operation changes in any way, an application must be submitted via Permits Online to vary the conditions of the existing permit  or seek a new permit (refer to Section 19 of the Permit Online Manual ‘Continue a current permit’; and Section 20 ‘Surrender a current permit’; and Section 21 ‘Transfer a current permit’).

Changes may include adding or changing a vessel , undertaking different activities, operating in different locations or changing a name on the permit (refer to Section 23 the Permits Online Manual ‘Notification Approvals’). 

Transfer of permits

Permits that attract the environmental management charge may be transferred.

These include permits for tourist operations, tourist facilities (for example, marinas and pontoons), aquaculture and sewage discharge into the Marine Park.

Applications to transfer Marine Parks permits are subject to approval from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and cannot occur if the permit has outstanding environmental management charge obligations, is suspended, has been revoked or has expired (including where the permit has been extended while assessment of an application for a further permit is underway).

A request to transfer a permit can be made via Permits Online  (refer section 21 ‘Transfer a current permit’ of the Permit Online Manual) at least 20 business days prior to the proposed transfer date.

Suspension and revocation

A Marine Parks permit can be suspended or revoked.

This may happen, for example, when the permitted activity damages the Marine Park, the permit holder fails to comply with a permit condition, or any environmental management charge logbooks have not been submitted or are overdue for payment.

Maximum penalties for failing to comply with a Marine Parks permit are $22,000 for an individual and $110,000 for a body corporate.

Vessels and other equipment (including catch) may also be seized and forfeited with a court order.

Review rights

A permit holder has the right to request that we reconsider any decision made about a permit application. Third parties can also seek a reconsideration.

A request for reconsideration must be made within 21 days of gazettal of the decision.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the subsequent reconsideration, you have a further right to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the reconsidered decision.

This right also applies to third parties. Review procedures and rights.

What can you do?

Permit holders must adhere to the requirements outlined in their permit to continue to be permitted to operate within the Marine Park.

The responsibility for complying with the conditions of a permission rests on the permit holder.

This includes fulfilling all obligations associated with any deed of agreement that may have been entered into and any obligations related to the Environmental Management Charge.

Everyone who enters or uses the Marine Park also has an obligation to take all reasonable steps to prevent or minimise harm to the environment in the Marine Park.

  • Steps you can take include:
  • Be familiar with and comply with the conditions and requirements of your permits.
  • If you are unsure of your obligations, contact us for assistance.
  • Take advantage of our Permits Online portal, which makes it easier for you to update your contact details, view your permits, and manage your permit obligations.

The Service Charter for the Permission System outlines our commitments to provide you with the best service possible and the responsibilities of permit holders.

Permit related questions

If you have any questions in regard to permits, such as permit-related incidents or permissions, then please use our contact details below:
Phone: (07) 4750 0700
Updated 5 Feb 2024
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