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Commonwealth Marine Park Network

The creation and effective management of marine reserves is widely regarded, both nationally and internationally, as one of the most effective mechanisms for maintaining the long-term health and productivity of our oceans. The Australian Government is committed to achieving these outcomes through the establishment and management of Commonwealth marine reserves. Commonwealth marine reserves are managed as five networks and one large reserve. The South-east network was proclaimed in June 2007 with the Temperate East, South-west, North-West and North networks and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve proclaimed in November 2012.

Commonwealth marine reserves are reserves that have been established under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) to conserve representative examples of Australia’s marine ecosystems, habitats and the marine life they support while allowing for the ecologically sustainable use of Australia’s marine resources. Commonwealth marine reserves are located around Australia in Commonwealth waters, which generally extend from three nautical miles off the coast to the outer limit of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles).

The Director of National Parks is the Statutory Authority responsible for the administration, management and control of Commonwealth marine reserves under the EPBC Act. Marine reserves closer in-shore are the responsibility of the states or the Northern Territory. More information about Commonwealth marine reserves can be found at www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves.

All Commonwealth marine reserves have been proclaimed under Australian law. Management arrangements for those reserves proclaimed in 2012 within the Temperate East, South-west, North-West and North networks and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve are currently under review. Until the review is completed and new management plans come into effect, transitional management arrangements are in place. Generally, transitional management arrangements mean that there are no changes ‘on the water’ for users of new areas added to the Commonwealth marine reserves that are the subject to the review. Further information about the review can be found at www.environment.gov.au/marinereservesreview/about.

For the 25 reserves that existed prior to 2012, including the reserves within the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network, management arrangements that were in place prior to November 2012 remain in effect. This means that previous approvals or permits can continue and any restrictions on activities under prior management arrangements remain. Further information about these reserves including their management can be found at www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves/overview.

Details on how the Commonwealth marine reserves affects the individual Release Areas can be found in the 2015 Acreage Release Special Notices.