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Managing marine parks

Each Queensland marine park has unique features that require specific management. However, objectives common to all include:

  • protecting and preserving plants, wildlife, ecosystems, and features of special scientific, archaeological or cultural importance
  • encouraging appreciation and awareness of natural history
  • ensuring the park remains a diverse, resilient and productive ecological system while allowing people access to its resources.


Each park has a zoning plan identifying its different zones and the activities that are allowed in each. It can also designate specific locations for special management. These plans are developed and altered with input from traditional custodians and user groups.

Marine management plans may also be developed to provide a planning framework. They include guidelines on how an area will be managed, and set out the considerations, outcomes and strategies that form the basis for day-to-day decisions. To alleviate problems at particular locations, detailed management plans have been developed for some very popular reefs and islands.

The Lady Musgrave Reef site management arrangements have been developed to continue to provide protection of the reef's unique biodiversity, while providing opportunities for the use of and access of the site.

The Lady Musgrave Reef site management arrangements and further information on how the arrangements where developed, can be found at the GBRMPA webpage.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service operate a joint Field Management Program for the marine and island national parks. The program delivers practical on-ground actions to protect and maintain well-functioning marine and island ecosystems that support economic, traditional and recreational uses of the Great Barrier Reef. The Field Management Program Annual Report Summaries, listed below, document the achievements of the program.

Report summaries


Marine park rangers employed by the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) are responsible for the day-to-day management of marine parks. These uniformed and qualified officers are usually responsible for a designated geographical area (a district). They need a broad range of skills to carry out their diverse responsibilities, but may also call on specialists to help carry out particular tasks.

Their tasks include:

  • resource monitoring and assessment
  • public contact
  • interpretation
  • education
  • surveillance patrols
  • enforcement
  • maintenance of infrastructure, plant and equipment.

Rangers also spend time ensuring cultural values of sea country are maintained. Working together with traditional owners, they help identify and protect sacred and special sites, and manage cultural resources.

Community rangers

Indigenous community rangers—Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander rangers who work for their community council or corporation—are also vital in the management of marine parks. In Queensland, more than 100 qualified community rangers are working to protect their land and sea country. QPWS staff cooperate with them to meet common goals.

Community rangers:

  • maintain marine resources at sustainable levels
  • look after cultural sites
  • help enforce marine park regulations in their areas
  • manage tourism, feral species and coastal stabilisation.

They also develop economic enterprises (e.g. fishing, tourism, construction of walking tracks, boardwalks, and cultural centres) to aid Indigenous self-determination. QPWS helps in this work by:

  • providing financial assistance and training to rangers and community councils,
  • participating in collaborative projects in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and State marine park areas.

Community rangers are the crucial contact between the various land councils, their local community councils, elders, and tribal corporations, and government departments and agencies such as ATSIC, TAFE, and NPSR. Because of their unique skills and traditional knowledge, they play an important role in ensuring that QPWS officers and traditional owners can work together to manage and sustain the ecological and cultural values of Queensland's sea country.

Getting involved

You can become involved in marine parks by:

  • participating in public submissions on proposed new parks or changes to existing ones
  • following all the regulations and obeying signs or advice given by marine park officers
  • learning as much as you can about marine parks to help you understand the importance of managing these marine environments for preservation now and forever
Last updated
9 December 2016