What is a licence and when is one required?
A license is a negotiated document between the Director of National Parks and an applicant, authorising the use of a marine park for a specific purpose. Licenses are required for all commercial activities in Australian Marine Parks, are transferable and may be granted for longer terms than permits.
The following commercial activities require an authorisation in the form of a license: commercial tourism, commercial media, commercial research and monitoring, structures and works, and aquaculture/pearling.
A licence is required if you wish to operate a commercial tourism activity in an Australian Marine Park. This includes:
- scuba/snorkel tours, nature watching (this includes visits by cruise ships)
- charter fishing,
- aviation tours (up to 3000 metres above sea level).
Scuba/snorkel tours, nature watching and cruise ship visits are allowable in all zones, except in Sanctuary Zones.
Charter fishing is allowable in all zones, except in National Park Zones, Sanctuary Zones and the Lord Howe Marine Park Recreational Use Zone. Please note, spear fishing is not allowed in some zones where charter fishing is allowable.
Aviation tours (up to 3000 metres above sea level) are allowable in all zones.
A licence is required if you wish to undertake commercial media activity in an Australian Marine Park. Commercial media is allowable in all zones.
News-of-the-day reporting may be undertaken without an authorisation, subject to the Director of National Parks being notified by email to ParksMedia@environment.gov.au.
Commercial research and monitoring
A licence is required if you wish to undertake research and monitoring in an Australian Marine Park that is commercial in nature. Commercial research and monitoring is allowable in all zones. Research of a non-commercial nature requires a permit.
Structures and works
An authorisation is required if you wish to undertake structure and works activities in an Australian Marine Park. Structure and works activities include:
- erection of structures, maintenance and works (for example, moorings, submarine cables, jetties and other infrastructure),
- artificial reefs, and
- dredging and disposal of dredge material.
Some structure and works activities are already authorised through a class approval, see our website for more information.
Erection of structures, maintenance and works are allowable in all zones.
If you are seeking to construct or operate a pipeline associated with a mining operation within an IUCN Category II or IV zone, contact us at email@example.com for specific advice.
Artificial Reefs are allowable in all zones, except Sanctuary Zones. In National Park Zones, Artificial Reefs are allowable only for the protection, conservation or restoration of habitats.
Dredging and disposal of dredged material are allowable only in Multiple Use Zones or Special Purpose (Trawl) Zones.
A licence is required if you wish to undertake aquaculture in an Australian Marine Park. Aquaculture is allowable in all zones, except Habitat Protection Zone (Lord Howe), Recreational Use Zones, National Park Zones and Sanctuary Zones.
A licence is required if you wish to cultivate pearls in an Australian Marine Park. This includes the re-location of collected oysters to holding sites and farm leases, cultivation of pearls, maintenance of structures at holding sites and farm leases and final harvest of pearls. This is allowable in Special Purpose Zones, Multiple Use Zones and Habitat Protection Zones of the North-west and North networks.
Collection of pearl brood stock is captured under a class approval for commercial fishing. More information on the class approval can be found here.
Applying for a licence
Applications generally take 8 weeks to assess. You can apply for a licence here.
Overseas applicants should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for specific advice before submitting an application.
There is currently no licence application fee for any activity.
There are fees required for all other types of licences (commercial media, commercial research and monitoring, structures and works and aquaculture/pearling). These fees will be negotiated with applicants after the activity has been assessed. There are no fees required for commercial tourism licences.
Granting a licence
Licences are only authorised if the activities are assessed and considered as acceptable against the decision making criteria in the management plans (part 4) by the Director of National Parks. Permits are subject to conditions that help to protect and conserve the natural, cultural, heritage and socio-economic values of the marine parks.
Commercial tourism operators can apply for licences of up to two years initially on plan commencement. This term may be subject to change in the future.
Commercial media, commercial research and monitoring, structures and works, pearling and aquaculture activities can apply for a licence of up to ten years.
Public liability insurance
You will need to provide a certificate of public liability insurance showing that you, your staff and contractors are covered for the activity. Your public liability insurance needs to be for at least $10 million for each and every event.
Need more information
For more information about what activities are allowed in each zone and marine park, visit:
- Commercial tourism
- Commercial media
- Commercial research and monitoring
- Structures and works
The Director of National Parks requires that personal information is collected from applicants for licences and permits. The personal information that you provide will be used by the Director to assess your application (including to consult with relevant Indigenous groups), manage activities within the relevant Commonwealth reserves, and enforce compliance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and its regulations.
Personal information you provide may be disclosed to other Commonwealth (and in some circumstances, State and Territory) government departments and agencies where it is required or authorised by or under law, where it is reasonably necessary for law enforcement, and/or for the purposes of assessing your application, managing authorisations, and aligning conditions with other permits.
Personal information you provide may also be disclosed to relevant Indigenous groups if the activities for which authorisation is sought in your application are likely to impact on Indigenous cultural values or culturally sensitive areas.
If you do not provide the requested personal information, your application cannot be assessed. Further, applicants are required to agree to this privacy notice before the Director of National Parks will accept an application.