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Onboard - Tourism Operator's Handbook for the Great Barrier Reef

Hinchinbrook Region

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Activities Guide An introduction to zoning in the Great Barrier Reef - 99.4 kb

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Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan

Qld Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park Zoning Plan

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Unsure about the meaning of a word? Some commonly used words in Marine Park management have very specific definitions. Click here to check their meanings.


The region from the Frankland Islands south to Halifax Bay is known for its spectacular island scenery, fringing and offshore reefs and sheltered bays and beaches.

Special management strategies have been put in place in the area around Hinchinbrook Island to protect natural, cultural and socio-economic values and to provide a range of visitor experiences.

When operating in the region there are some key arrangements you should check.

Check Plan of Management requirements

The Hinchinbrook Area has a Plan of Management designed to preserve a range of opportunities and experiences. Through this Plan the natural and cultural values of the overall area are protected, the number of tourism operations is managed, along with the maximum group size to each Location. There are specific management arrangements for some sensitive locations and some activities.

It is important that you understand in detail the particular management arrangements for the Hinchinbrook Planning Area.

Check zoning requirements

Zoning is one of the primary management tools for the Marine Park and it is important that you understand the zoning for the area you intend to visit. You are responsible for knowing all the zoning provisions for the location you wish to visit.

Look up the colour of the reef, island or bay you wish to visit on the zoning maps, then check the Activities Guide for what you can and can't do in the zone.

More detailed information about zoning is available on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) websites.

Check Special Management Areas

There are Special Management Areas (SMA) throughout the Marine Park. They apply specific management arrangements to an area to improve conservation of the area or to manage use. They provide an overlay to zoning and are generally marked on the zoning maps.

When you operate offshore Innisfail and Hinchinbrook, you must be aware of the:

  • Public Appreciation Special Management Areas
    • Dunk (Coonanglebah) Island Reef (17-053)
    • Richards (Bedarra) Island Reef (18-001a)
    • Orpheus Island Reef south-west (18-049b).

In addition to the rules for the Conservation Park (yellow) Zone, you cannot spearfish in these areas.

Check designated Shipping Areas

If you conduct a cruise ship operation, check the designated Shipping Areas. They are an overlay to zoning and are designated to allow the navigation of ships through zones where they would otherwise not be permitted. You can locate the Shipping Area boundaries on the zoning maps.

Check your permit

You must have a permit to operate in the Marine Park. Read your permit carefully for additional conditions about operating in the region.

Check Island National Parks

There are many island National Parks in the Innisfail and Hinchinbrook region. There may be booking and permit requirements to visit these islands above high water mark, please contact your nearest QPWS office.

Check Responsible Reef Practices

For each of the activities you undertake consider how you and your clients can adopt responsible reef practices and further help protect the Reef.

Where can I get more information?

The GBRMPA, QPWS and a range of other regional contacts can help you with any questions you may have.

Image supplied courtesy of Tourism Queensland

© Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority