The review of the zoning plan for the Great Sandy Marine Park has been completed. The outcomes of the review result in a range of zoning and management changes that will be included in the final zoning plan. Read a summary of the outcomes (PDF, 6 MB) that outlines what changes to expect when the final zoning plan comes into effect, or read the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (PDF, 10 MB) for full details.

The Queensland Government has undertaken a review of the zoning plan for the Great Sandy Marine Park.

Each marine park has a zoning plan that outlines the rules to manage the multiple activities that occur within each park and defines the locations of different zones which in turn provide for different levels of protection and use .

The Great Sandy Marine Park is a multiple use park established in 2006 to protect its significant natural and cultural values while providing opportunities for a range of different uses.

The need for change

Globally, marine biodiversity is under threat from a range of factors including climate change, population growth, pollution and increasing use. The Great Sandy Marine Park is being impacted by these global trends.

The Great Sandy Marine Park:

  • boasts 23 broad habitat types, however several of these are under-represented in the highly protected zones of the existing zoning plan, placing the marine park’s biodiversity and critical species at risk
  • has seen a significant decrease in its extent of seagrass habitat
  • is seeing a significant increase in mature marine turtle and dugong strandings resulting from a range of causes including boat strike, poor health and flooding
  • includes the only known gestation site on the east coast of Australia for the critically endangered grey nurse shark, however the existing zoning plan does not effectively protect sharks at this key aggregation site from being hooked or accidentally caught by recreational and commercial line fishers
  • is seeing a decrease in the numbers of many migratory shorebird species, some by more than 10% per year
  • is subject to increasing coastal impacts from severe weather events caused by climate change
  • is subject to a range of demands from competing uses.

Changes need to be made to the Great Sandy Marine Park zoning plan in order to address threats to the long-term conservation of wildlife and their habitats and preserve and enhance the region’s lifestyle and economic strengths.

The opportunity

The zoning plan review provided the opportunity to:

  • better protect cultural values, respect and recognise First Nations peoples’ native title rights and responsibilities for caring for their sea Country
  • improve biodiversity and provide better protection of several iconic and threatened species, which are significant nationally and internationally including whales, dolphins, dugongs, turtles, grey nurse sharks and shorebirds
  • largely maintain the use of the marine park by the commercial trawl, crab, line and harvest fisheries, and those components of the net fishery that are of a lesser risk to threatened species
  • enhance the region’s enviable nature-based and recreational fishing lifestyle
  • support future economic growth in the region based on nature-based tourism, recreational and charter fishing and, where appropriate, aquaculture
  • assist local councils to address coastal impacts of climate change.


Zoning Plan review process

A four-stage process:

Stage 1: Information gathered about the conservation, social, cultural and economic values of the marine park.

Stage 2: A discussion paper released to gain public feedback on the management of the marine park.

Stage 3: A draft zoning plan and associated Regulatory Impact Statement released for further consultation and feedback in September-October 2022.

Stage 4: Informed by feedback from the consultation, legislation reflecting the outcomes of the review prepared. The new legislation will take effect at a nominated date in 2024 following implementation of impact mitigation processes.