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The managing agencies recognise the important role that research plays in contributing to our understanding of the Great Barrier Reef.

Research provides us with a scientific basis for management decisions, which helps us protect the Marine Park's environment, biodiversity, and heritage values.

The Zoning Plans and regulations state how research activities are managed in the Marine Parks.

The guidelines for managing research in the Marine Park outline our approach to managing research activities and key considerations and limitations of research.

When is a permit needed?

Most research requires a permit issued jointly by the managing agencies. Some research may be conducted without the Marine Park Authority's permission, provided certain conditions are satisfied.

For permit applications for restoration and/or adaptation intervention projects to improve the resilience of habitats in the Marine Parks, please review the managing agencies' Policy on Great Barrier Reef Interventions and application guidelines.

Applying for research permissions

Research that does not comply with the requirements for research under accreditation requires permission. Researchers should submit their applications via the online application portal.

  • Research permission applications must:
  • include the names of proposed taxa (to the lowest relevant taxonomic level) and sampling numbers
  • include information on the relative abundance of the species or habitat and the species conservation status or vulnerability to over-collecting (including localised depletion)
  • describe the level of environmental impact that may result from the research activity, including in the context of the state of the environment at the proposed sites.


Guidance on the minimum information required for research permissions is provided in the application guidelines and checklist.

View the Permit application guidelines for restoration/adaptation projects to improve the resilience of habitats in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Limited impact research (non-extractive and extractive) may be conducted under a letter of authority issued by an accredited educational or research institution.

Limited impact research can only be carried out in General Use, Habitat Protection, Conservation Park, Scientific Research, Buffer (non-extractive only), and Marine National Park (non-extractive only) zones of the Marine Parks and is further restricted by methods and equipment that may be used and by sampling (take) limits.

Regulations 19 and 20 define limited-impact research, and the research guidelines outline important standards, limitations and considerations regarding limited-impact research.

For information on obtaining a letter of authority for limited-impact research, please contact your university faculty.

Contact us to become an accredited institution:
Phone (07) 4750 0860

Research activities involving access to biological resources are managed in a manner consistent with Australia’s international obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Within the Marine Parks, the managing agencies manage the environmental impacts of activities that provide access to biological resources.

Before removing resources from the Marine Park, you should determine whether you require a Marine Parks permit to collect biological resources.

Please note that applications to access biological resources for the purpose of research are considered a commercial activity and may incur a Permit Application Assessment Fee.

Specimens collected under research permissions cannot be sold.

If you have a Marine Parks permit, you should resolve any benefit-sharing agreements with the Australian and/or Queensland governments before accessing the Marine Parks to collect biological resources.

Benefit sharing agreements

Depending on where you collect within the Marine Parks, benefit-sharing agreements may be required with the Australian and/or Queensland governments.

The managing agencies are not involved in the negotiation of benefit-sharing agreements.

If you are accessing resources in Commonwealth waters or on a Commonwealth island, you must negotiate a benefit-sharing agreement with the Australian Government.

If you are seeking to access resources from Queensland waters, a Queensland coast or a Queensland island, you will need to obtain a collection authority form and negotiate a benefit-sharing agreement with the Queensland Government.

For further information about permit requirements under the Queensland Biodiscovery Act 2004, see the relevant Queensland Government website.

Updated 3 Jul 2024
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