Review of the Zoning Plan for Great Sandy Marine Park

The Great Sandy Marine Park is a multiple use park established in 2006 to protect its significant natural and cultural values while providing opportunities for a range of different uses.

The Queensland Government undertook a review of the zoning plan for the Great Sandy Marine Park, which was completed in July 2023.

The outcomes of the review result in a range of zoning and management changes that will be included in a new zoning plan.

Read a summary of the outcomes (PDF, 6.2 MB) that outlines what changes to expect when the new zoning plan comes into effect, or read the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (PDF, 10.7 MB) for full details.

Read about why the zoning plan was reviewed and the opportunities.

Zoning Plan review process

The review involved a four-stage process:

Stage 1: Information gathered about the conservation, social, cultural and economic values of the marine park.

Stage 2: A discussion paper released to gain public feedback on the management of the marine park.

Stage 3: A draft zoning plan and associated Regulatory Impact Statement released for further consultation and feedback in September-October 2022.

Stage 4: Informed by feedback from the consultation, legislation reflecting the outcomes of the review prepared. The new legislation will take effect at a nominated date in 2024 following implementation of impact mitigation processes.

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Four stages of the Great Sandy Marine Park zoning plan review

Since 2019, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) has undertaken a significant program of consultation with the community, First Nations peoples, local councils, scientists and key stakeholder groups on the zoning arrangements in the marine park.

A draft zoning plan was developed, informed by community feedback, advice from First Nations peoples, recommendations from an independent scientific reference group, socio-economic information and scientific research, as well as best practice marine park management principles.

In developing the draft zoning plan, consideration was given to the primary objective of the Marine Parks Act 2004 to conserve and manage the state’s marine environment while providing opportunities for a range of ecologically sustainable uses by the community.

Between 23 September and 23 October 2022, the draft zoning plan and associated Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement outlining proposed changes was released for broad public consultation and feedback.

Stakeholders and the community were invited to have their say on how well the proposed changes would conserve and manage the marine park and/or affect them via an online survey or by submitting their feedback in writing. The online survey targeted the following key topics relating to the marine park:

  • habitat protection
  • the designated Great Sandy Area and commercial net fishing
  • recreational fishing
  • protecting threatened species
  • coastal management
  • protecting cultural values
  • Platypus Bay.

Information about the draft zoning plan was distributed via traditional media, social media, newspaper and online advertising, email, posters, stickers and flyers, likely reaching more than 1.5 million people and generating more than 21,000 visits to the consultation website.

More than 443,000 of this audience was within the Great Sandy Marine Park local communities of Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Gympie and Tin Can Bay.

How feedback was provided

More than 6,580 pieces of feedback were received, including:

  • 1,245 submissions via the consultation online survey – over 59% from within Great Sandy Marine Park local communities of Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Gympie and Tin Can Bay
  • 215 written submissions, which included 2 form letters. The form letters produced by the Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Queensland Seafood Industry Association generated 4,227 and 1,066 letters respectively.

What the feedback said

Community and stakeholder consultation indicated strong support for the majority of changes that were proposed in the draft zoning plan.

In most cases the proposed changes were either supported as is, or with suggested modifications. These modifications mostly related to the location or boundary alignment of particular Marine National Park (green) zones.

The one key proposal that was strongly opposed by the majority of respondents (70 per cent) was the retention of commercial tunnel netting within the Conservation Park (yellow) zone of the Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Inlet.

  • The majority of people who completed the online survey chose to respond to questions relating to the revised zoning network and indicated strong and broad support for increasing protection of marine park habitats.
  • Online survey results:
    • 63% agreed with the proposed increase of the Marine National Park (green) zones from 3.9% to 12.8% of the park
    • 79% agreed with proposed new or expanded Conservation Park (yellow) zones
    • 75% agreed with proposed new or expanded Habitat Protection (dark blue) zones.
  • The recreational fishing sector provided the majority of survey consultation feedback and were broadly supportive of the draft zoning plan but suggested several modifications to reduce impacts on recreational fishing access at some key fishing locations.
  • Commercial fishers, seafood processors and various support industries strongly opposed the proposed changes to the zoning network and in particular, the prohibition of large mesh gill nets and ring nets from the Conservation Park Zones within Baffle Creek, Elliott River, Burrum River system, the Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Inlet, due to the significant impacts on the local industry.
  • The conservation sector provided clear support for most of the proposed changes and made suggestions to further enhance marine conservation.

Informed by consultation, most changes proposed in the draft zoning plan will be included in the final zoning plan.

The final zoning plan will increase the Marine National Park (green) zone network, remove some forms of commercial net fishing in certain areas; improve threatened species protection and improve protection of cultural values. Key changes include:

  • change in zoning to represent 12.8% of the area of the marine park in green zones contributing to a total of 28.6% of the marine park in highly protected zones (green and yellow zones)
  • removal of commercial large mesh gill nets and ring nets (operating under N1 and N2 fishery symbols) from the Conservation Park zones within Baffle Creek, Elliott River, Burrum River system, the Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Inlet
  • measures to increase protection of threatened species, including shorebirds, turtles, dugongs and grey nurse sharks
  • measures to protect cultural and amenity values
  • zone changes to facilitate local government responses to increased coastal erosion from climate change impacts.

The following resources provide further information :

As at July 2023, following the completion of the review phase, there are several steps required to finalise the Great Sandy Marine Park Zoning Plan:

Next steps

  1. A commercial fisheries impact mitigation package will be developed and implemented to assist the commercial fishing sector and post-harvest seafood businesses directly affected by these changes.
  2. Processes will be finalised to legislate the final zoning plan. As part of these processes, on 11 October 2023, the Queensland Parliament passed a resolution to progress the revocation of 15 small areas from the Great Sandy Marine Park, totalling approximately 26 hectares, to support the consistent management of public boating infrastructure across the park and better define the upstream extent of the park in three waterways.
  3. Community education to prepare marine park users for the commencement of the new zoning plan.
  4. The final zoning plan comes into effect in 2024 following implementation of the impact mitigation process.
  5. Ongoing implementation of a Regional Economic Enhancement Package which will include infrastructure such as boat ramps and artificial reefs to support recreational fishing and tourism opportunities in the marine park. Further opportunities to explore the expansion of aquaculture in the region will also be investigated.

Community awareness

In the lead up to the final zoning plan taking effect, there will be public education and awareness programs to help support marine park users understand and prepare for the new zoning plan.

Subscribe to be kept informed about when the changes will come into effect.

Further information will be communicated through updates on this web page, through direct engagement, as well as ongoing community awareness and education in the marine park region.

Subscribe to be kept informed about when the changes will come into effect.