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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.

Commercial tourism

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.

Commercial media

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 marineparks@environment.gov.au 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.

Aquaculture/pearling

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.

Collection of brood stock may be captured under a class approval for commercial fishing. Please contact marineparks@environment.gov.au to clarify requirements.  

Applying for a licence

Please allow a minimum of four weeks for your application to be processed. Some projects, particularly where consultation with traditional owners is required, may take longer. You can apply for a licence here.

Overseas applicants

Overseas applicants should contact marineparks@environment.gov.au for specific advice before submitting an application.

Licence fees

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.

Licence term

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, 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:

You can find more information at Parks Australia or email marineparks@environment.gov.au or phone 1800 069 352.

Disclosure

Your personal information may be disclosed to other Australian (and in some circumstances, state and territory) Government departments and agencies where it is required or authorised by or under law or where it is reasonably necessary for law enforcement and for the purposes of assessing your application and aligning conditions with other permits.

Privacy

The Director of National Parks requires personal information from applicants. The personal information that you provide will be used by the Director to assess your application and manage activities within the park, including compliance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and EPBC Regulations. If you do not provide the requested information, your application cannot be assessed.

Privacy policy

The collection, storage, use and disclosure of personal information by the Director of National Parks is governed by the Privacy Act 1988 and, in particular, by the Australian Privacy Principles. The Director's privacy policy details how you can access and correct your personal information held by the Director, and who to contact if you have a concern about your personal information.