2018 Release Areas

Australian Marine Parks

Some of the 2018 release areas overlap Australian Marine Parks (AMP). Details on areas of overlap, how AMPs affect individual areas released for offshore petroleum exploration and management arrangements can be found in the 2018 special notices.

There are 60 marine parks in Commonwealth waters around Australia. The Director of National Parks is responsible for the management of 59 of these, known as Australian Marine Parks (Commonwealth reserves proclaimed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) in 2007 and 2013). The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is responsible for the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and the Australian Antarctic Division manages the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve on behalf of the Director of National Parks.

Australian Marine Parks have been established to protect and conserve biodiversity and other natural, cultural and heritage values (marine park values), while allowing for ecologically sustainable use and enjoyment of their natural resources. They are managed in five marine park networks: North, North-west, South-west, Temperate East and South-east; and the Coral Sea Marine Park.

Figure 1: Australian Marine Parks, the Heard and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Management Plans for Australian Marine Parks

The Director of National Parks is required to prepare management plans for Australian Marine Parks under the EPBC Act, which describe the management arrangements for the marine parks for a period of ten years. These management plans can be found on the Parks Australia website.

A management plan for the 14 marine parks of the South-east Network is currently in place until 2023. New management plans for the five networks and the Coral Sea Marine Park will come into full effect from 1 July 2018.

Proposed arrangements within the draft management plans released for public comment in July 2017 ensure that NOPSEMA remains the sole assessor for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities in Commonwealth waters, and additional assessment by the Director of National Parks will not be required in Special Purpose and Multiple Use zones.

This does not replace the need for titleholders to have an Environment Plan accepted by NOPSEMA. Specific approval from the Director of National Parks will be required for pipelines traversing Habitat Protection, Recreational Use and Marine National Park zones.

Management arrangements within Australian Marine Parks

For the South-east Network, a class approval is in place for mining operations and allows mining operations in Special Purpose and Multiple Use zones, where the activity is undertaken in accordance with the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 and has:

  • an approval under Part 9 of the EPBC Act (note this includes the NOPSEMA Program which is accredited and approved under Part 10 of the EPBC Act and is taken to be approved under Part 9); or

  • is determined not a controlled action if taken in a particular manner or not a controlled action under Part 7 of the EPBC Act.

For the North, North-west, South-west and Temperate East Marine Parks Networks and the Coral Sea Marine Park, transitional management arrangements are in place until new management plans come into force. Under these arrangements:

  • for new marine parks established in 2012 a general approval is in place under section 359B of the EPBC Act, and no further authorisation from the Director is required, subject to assessment under NOPSEMA’s legislative processes.

  • for marine parks not in the South-east Network, but declared prior to 2012 (Coral Sea Conservation Zone, Lihou Reef, Coringa-Herald, Ashmore Reef, Ningaloo Reef, Cartier Island, Mermaid Reef, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, Cod Grounds, Solitary Islands, Lord Howe and Great Australian Bight), pre-existing restrictions apply, and no oil or gas operations are permitted, except in the Benthic Protection Zone of the former Great Australian Bight Marine Park (subject to approval).

For further information about the management arrangements for mining operations in AMPs, please see the NOPSEMA guidance note on Activities within Australian Marine Parks [GN1565].