Australian Marine Parks

We are committed to supporting high quality tourism operators who provide visitors with engaging experiences that raise awareness about marine parks and support Australia’s visitor economy.

Australian Marine Park management plans contain important information about the rules for commercial tourism operators. These rules help protect marine parks and ensure sustainable tourism into the future.

If you run a commercial tourism operation, it is your responsibility to know the rules and follow them.

Where can I go?

Diving in the Coral Sea Marine Park. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

Where can I take tourists?

Australian Marine Parks are made up of different management zones – these allow different types of tourism activities.

Tourism activities are allowable with a licence in most areas, however there are some exceptions. The management plans detail the zones and rules for each marine park.

Use the interactive map to find out where you can conduct tourism activities in our marine parks.

For further information about the zones and rules in each marine park, look at the factsheets on each regional network.

Non-fishing tourism

Non-fishing tourism is allowed across marine parks, except in Sanctuary zones. This includes:

  • nature watching tours
  • scuba/snorkel tours.

Charter fishing

Charter fishing tours, including spear diving tours, are allowed in all marine parks, except at Lord Howe Island, or in National Park or Sanctuary zones.

Fishers on board a charter fishing vessel must comply with relevant Commonwealth, state and territory fisheries laws. When you are in a zone where fishing is prohibited, you will need to stow and secure your fishing gear.


Commercial aviation tours may be conducted above marine parks.

Cruise ships

Cruise ships are allowed in all marine parks, except Sanctuary zones.

Do I need an approval?

Snorkelling with jelly fish at Ningaloo Marine Park. Photo: Emily Wood

Do I need to apply for an approval?

Yes. You must have a current licence from the Director of National Parks to operate the following activities in marine parks:

  • Charter fishing
  • Nature watching
  • SCUBA and snorkelling
  • Cruise ships (where the ship stops or slows in an Australian Marine Park). Cruise ships which are only transiting do not need a licence.
  • Aviation (up to 3000 metres from sea level). Aviation tours require a licence if operating in marine parks up to 3000 metres above sea level, except in the South-east Network, which only requires an authorisation if landing in a South-east Network marine park

No fees apply for commercial tourism licences or permits.

How do I apply?

School of Trevally.

How do I apply for a licence?

To apply for a licence, register on our online system and set up your online account. You can then use your online account to submit a licence application.

Apply for a licence

Our licence application guidance will take you through each step of the application process.

Applications generally take eight weeks to assess. However, each application is different and some applications will take longer than this.

Where can I anchor?

Where can I anchor my vessel?

Tourism vessels are generally allowed to anchor in our marine parks but there are a a few exceptions.

Anchoring restrictions are in place at Ashmore Reef Marine Park and Mermaid Reef Marine Park to protect important habitats. Moorings are provided at these parks to prevent anchor damage to the coral reefs – check the marine park pages to learn more.

There may also be temporary restrictions if research is underway.

Need help?

Need help?

If you have questions regarding Australian Marine Parks or conducting tourism operations in our marine parks, please contact us.

More information

Parks Australia views any incidents of noncompliance seriously and where there is evidence of noncompliance, serious penalties under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 may apply.

Thank you for your continued support in helping to protect our marine parks.