Permit Information

Various permissions are required to undertake research in Commonwealth, State and Territory waters. Due to the complexity of laws and intersecting jurisdictions information on this page should be treated as a guide only and information from the relevant governing bodies should be consulted to ascertain that the correct permissions have been acquired prior to any research undertaking.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

Permits are required for all research and monitoring activities carried out within Australian Marine Parks. Permits can be acquired via an online portal submission form. Permits are also required for accessing biological resources in Commonwealth areas, and are available for download.

If you have any questions or queries the Marine Protected Areas Branch can be reached at or on 1800 069 352.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

For research within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park a permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is required.

The following table provides more detail on research in Commonwealth Marine Parks.

Activity Sample Type Jurisdiction Responsible Agency Legislation Requirements for approval

Research and monitoring

All activities

Australian Marine Parks

Department of Environment and Energy (DoEE)

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act)

Authorisation is required for all zones

Activities that could have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance

EEZ 3 - 200 nautical miles


Australian Marine Park Management Plans


EPBC Act referral

Public consultation, including indigenous stakeholders

Interactions with Cetaceans

Acoustic equipment


Received exposure level 160dB re 1 ┬ÁPa2.s for 95% of seismic shot at 1km range

EEZ 3 - 200 nautical miles


EPBC Act Policy Statement 2.1

EPBC Referral and comply with Policy Statement 2.1

Vessel interaction

EEZ 3 - 200 nautical miles



Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 (Cth) (EPBC Regulations) part 8

Report death, injury, stranding or entanglement of whales and dolphins to DoEE Specific requirements for vessels

Interaction with Heritage

Historic Ship wrecks

Waters above the Australian continental shelf (includes waters in some areas beyond 200 nm)


Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 (Cth)

Ship wrecks and relics older than 75 years are protected. Some ship wrecks lie within protected zones. Permits required to enter a protected zone for some activities

Restricted vessel movement and moored scientific equipment that create navigation hazards

Australian Hydrographic Service AHS

Australian Marine Safety AMSA

Notice to mariners 2-3 weeks prior to survey commences.

Vessel to RCC to update NAVAREA X alerts

Research in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park GBRMP

Research, except for limited impact research.


Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority GBRMPA

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (Cth)


For research within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park a permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is required. For more information on permits in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, please refer to the website

State and Territory Coastal waters

Laws and regulations regarding multibeam sonar acquisition in State and Territory waters vary slightly across jurisdictions. Except for the following caveats, multibeam sonar acquisition is generally not restricted or subject to permit requirements in State and Territory waters. Permits are required for any survey work that is planned to be undertaken in Marine Protected Areas (for guidance see Marine Protected Areas section above). Additionally, surveys which plan to carry out extractive work (marine biota) or could be considered destructive to marine habitats alongside multibeam acquisition should seek the advice of the State or Territory of the waters within which they plan to operate, as these procedures often require permits or approval. If surveys are planned to intersect waters that are subject to access restrictions (e.g., naval waters, commercial ports, or shipping channels) then it is also required that advice/permission is sought from the presiding authoritative body as well as the State or Territory Government. In New South Wales, if seabed surveying is being carried out for the purposes of resource exploration then permission must be sought through NSW Resources and Energy (Environment and Planning) as such work requires a permit. Work carried out within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has a different approval process to other Marine Protected Areas (refer to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park section above).

Foreign vessels

Foreign vessels undertaking Marine Scientific Research (MSR) in Australian waters are required to apply for Public Vessel Status (PVS) through the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Public vessels are regarded in Australia as those vessels owned, chartered, temporarily employed, contracted or commissioned by any foreign State, when such vessels are not engaged in any commercial activity.

Note the timelines for submission i.e. at least six months in advance of the expected start date of the voyage.

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