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In partnership with Traditional Owners, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (the Managing Agencies) through the joint permission system are establishing a Marine Parks Cultural Referral process to provide Traditional Owners with a greater say on activities permitted in the Marine Parks.

Managing Agencies will send relevant information on permit applications to determined native title holders and Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement (TUMRA) groups’ Traditional Owners. Traditional Owners can then provide advice back on what impacts the activity might have on their Sea Country values. This advice will be considered in making a decision on the permit application.

  • Cultural referrals may provide the following benefits:
  • Enhanced protection of the cultural and ecological values of the Reef
  • Support Traditional Owners to have meaningful input into the management of their Sea Country
  • Greater awareness among Traditional Owners of what is happening in their Sea Country
  • Provide an avenue to identify opportunities for collaboration or information sharing between Traditional Owners and Permit Holders

Collaboration is key

If you are a saltwater Traditional Owner group with established cultural authority for Sea Country in the Marine Parks, we welcome your involvement and engagement in Marine Park permissions.

Please contact to get involved or for more information.


If you are interested, the Managing Agencies can work with you to design a process that suits your Sea Country estate.

  • We may discuss:
  • What activities, areas or species are of particular interest?
  • How do activities in the Marine Park impact your cultural heritage values?
  • How would you like your values to be protected through management of permitted activities?
  • What types of permissions and activities would you like to provide advice on?
  • How would you like to receive and respond to Marine Park Cultural Referrals?
  • Once we develop and agree on a Marine Park Cultural Referral process with you, we can start providing relevant referrals.


At this stage, the project is limited to Traditional Owner groups with clear Sea Country estates, evidenced by a Native Title Determination or Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement, and will apply to proposed activities in the Marine Parks that require a permission.

Referrals will not replace or affect the Future Act Notifications process under the Native Title Act 1993.

The Managing Agencies are committed to protecting Indigenous heritage and will consider all information provided during this initiative, however we may not be able to accommodate all issues and requests, particularly where current permissions exist.


Spatial information on registered Native Title Claims and Determinations is accessible via the National Native Title Tribunal web portal, Native Title Vision at Queensland Argis

What does this mean for permit applicants?

The Managing Agencies recognise that establishing an effective and meaningful partnership with Traditional Owners is essential to protect cultural and heritage values, conserve biodiversity and enhance the resilience of the Reef.

The Managing Agencies strongly encourages all permit holders to contact the Traditional Owners of the areas they are operating in, and where appropriate, work with Traditional Owners to help ensure the best outcomes for the management of the Marine Parks.

Applicants who liaise directly with Traditional Owners are able to build relationships which are likely to benefit both parties. This may lead to opportunities for collaboration or product/experience enhancement.

After an application is received, the Managing Agencies will formally refer the application to relevant Traditional Owner groups participating in this program.

Learn how to contact Reef Traditional Owners.

Updated 23 Mar 2023
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