What is a Marine Park?

Marine Parks are similar to National Parks on land. They are primarily for the conservation of nature, and are used by the community for a range of recreational activities. These include boating, snorkelling, and fishing. Marine Parks differ from National Parks in that they have zones which are designated for different purposes.

Marine Parks are faced with many of the same problems as National Parks including overuse and pollution. Therefore certain areas are designated as sanctuary areas, also known as green or no-take zones, which prohibit extractive activities such as fishing, mining, and drilling.

What is a marine sanctuary?

  • A marine sanctuary is a zone which prohibits extractive activities such as fishing, mining, and drilling. Sanctuary zones are also called no-take zones, green zones and Marine National Parks.
  • Sanctuary zones protect the feeding, breeding, nursery and resting areas for some of our favourite marine species. Removing or harming any plant, animal or marine product in a sanctuary zone is prohibited, ensuring a high level of conservation.
  • Sanctuary zones take in fragile areas such as seagrass meadows, reefs and mangroves.
  • Sanctuary zones also provide areas for education and research, and are important areas against which to benchmark the environmental health of other marine areas.
  • Management plans for each park contain detailed maps of sanctuary zone locations. You can find management plans on each individual marine park web page; www.mpa.nsw.gov.au

Marine parks in Australia

All activities within a marine park are regulated through zoning and operational plans developed for each marine park. Zoning plans set out what can and cannot be done within the zones of a marine park. These plans are generally developed in consultation with the community and interest groups.

Marine parks in NSW managed by the Marine Estate Management Authority. The Authority is jointly responsible to the Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for the Environment and includes representatives of agencies involved in managing the NSW marine estate.

The Authority is advised by the Marine Estate Expert Panel, which is made up of scientific and community representative positions.

General rules for use and access:

Vessel transit is allowed in all South East Commonwealth Marine Reserves. When passing through zones where fishing (commercial and recreational) is not allowed, fishing gear must be kept stowed and secured at all times.

Ballast water may be discharged or exchanged, subject to compliance with:

  1. The Australian Ballast Water Management Requirements and relevant state ballast water management arrangements;
  2.  Relevant Commonwealth and state legislation or international agreements relating to ballast water management
  3. Other management arrangements made by the Director under the Management Plan.

The installation of structures and carrying out of works, including excavations, requires a permit. Examples of such installations include maritime navigation aids, and weather or ocean monitoring stations.


All rights reserved National Parks Association of NSW Inc 2015

National Parks Association of NSW is a non-government conservation group that seeks to protect, connect and restore the integrity and diversity of natural systems in NSW and beyond, through national parks, marine sanctuaries and other means.