Managing marine parks

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) manages state marine parks as a multi-use marine protected area. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), a business unit of DES, is responsible for the day-to-day management of the marine park.

There are three state marine parks in Queensland:

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.

Management plans

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 protected area management plans have been developed for some popular reefs and islands.

Management programs

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 are available on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website

Management of Marine parks are supported through:


Marine park rangers are responsible for the day-to-day management of marine parks. These officers are usually responsible for a designated geographical area. They need a broad range of skills to carry out their responsibilities, but may also call on specialists for particular tasks.

Rangers’ tasks include:

  • resource monitoring and assessment
  • public contact
  • interpretation (signage)
  • education
  • surveillance patrols
  • enforcement
  • maintenance of infrastructure and equipment.

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

Meet the park rangers that are at the forefront of our work to protect the value and build resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef Joint Field Management Program is a partnership between Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority dedicated to protecting the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The Program delivers conservation actions, checks for change on island and the Reef, responds to incidents, welcomes people and upholds compliance to marine park zoning. It plays a proactive role in managing the Reef while global efforts to limit climate change and regional efforts to improve water quality take effect.

Meet the park rangers

Duration 2:14


Hi everyone my name is Kimberley and I'm a marine parks ranger with QPWS.

My name's Darrius, I'm a marine park ranger working in the southern Great Barrier Reef.

I’ve recently just moved down to the southern Great Barrier Reef and I'm now here at the beautiful Lady Musgrave island.


Lady Musgrave island is home to residential and migratory seabirds.


What got me into being a ranger is I had two role models in my life that are family members that's my grandfather and my uncle that really inspired me to get a job like this and I love working here because I love seeing beautiful places and taking care of sea country.

Community rangers

Indigenous community rangers—Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander rangers who work for their community council or corporation—are vital in the management of marine parks.

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.

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