Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Commonwealth marine reserves have been established under Australian law to conserve representative examples of Australia’s marine ecosystems while allowing for the ecologically sustainable use of Australia’s marine resources.

There are a total of 60 Commonwealth Marine Reserves in Commonwealth waters around Australia. Commonwealth marine reserves total some 3.2 million square kilometres in area. The Director of National Parks (the Director) is responsible for the management of 59 of the Commonwealth marine reserves with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority responsible for the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Australian Antarctic Division manages the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve on behalf of the Director.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves map

Figure 1 – Commonwealth marine reserves networks, the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve, the Heard and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Commonwealth marine reserves are managed as five networks of reserves and one large reserve in the Coral Sea (Figure 1). The South-east network was proclaimed in 2007 and has a management plan in place until 2023. The Temperate East, South-west, North-west and North Commonwealth marine reserve networks and the Coral Sea Commonwealth marine reserve were proclaimed in 2012 and are currently under transitional management arrangements.

Further information about Commonwealth marine reserves. Details on how the Commonwealth marine reserves affect individual release areas, including transitional management arrangements, can be found in the 2016 Acreage Release Special Notices.