Australian Marine Parks

Creating amazing destinations is one of Parks Australia’s core goals, and we want to work with operators to promote sustainable tourism in Australian Marine Parks.

Australian Marine Parks provide outstanding experiences for visitors, including:

  • nature watching
  • snorkelling and scuba diving
  • charter fishing
  • aviation
  • cruise ships

Where can operators take tourists?

The management plans set out zones and rules for tourism in Australian Marine Parks.

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

  • nature watching tours
  • scuba/snorkel tours

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.

Commercial aviation tours may be conducted above marine parks.

Cruise ships are allowed in all marine parks, except 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.

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

Do tourism operators need to apply for an approval?

Yes. Tourism operators need to apply for a licence to conduct tours in marine parks. 

Tourism operators require a permit to conduct tours in South-east Network of marine parks.

The following types of tourism activities require a licence:

  • non-fishing (scuba, snorkel, nature watching)
  • charter fishing
  • aviation
  • cruise ships

Cruise ships which stop or slow in an Australian Marine Park need to apply for a licence for commercial tourism. Cruise ships which are only transiting do not need a licence.

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.

Where can tourism vessels anchor?

Tourism vessels are generally allowed to anchor in Australian Marine Parks, excluding some places to protect important habitats or where research is occurring.

To prevent anchor damage to the coral reefs, moorings are available for use at Ashmore Reef Marine Park and Mermaid Reef Marine Park. Anchoring restrictions are in place at these marine parks.

How can tourism operators be involved in marine park management?

We currently work in partnership with a range of marine park users and stakeholders to manage, protect and better understand our marine parks.

If you’re interested in being involved in the management of Australian Marine Parks, please contact us via email.


Apply for a licence