Marine sanctuaries for the Great Barrier Reef

Map showing the marine park zones in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia / ©: WWF-Australia
Map showing the marine park zones in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
© WWF-Australia
Since its implementation in 2004, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan has dramatically increased the numbers of some of the reef’s most important fish species and is seen as vital to building the reef’s resilience to climate change. 

Until 2004, only 4.6% of the reef was fully protected, but as a result of a rezoning process and public campaigning and pressure from WWF, the Australian Government committed to a plan to protect 33.4% of the reef.

The zoning plan features a network of marine sanctuaries that protect over 11 million hectares of the park from all extractive uses.

This represents the world’s largest network of marine sanctuaries, however WWF is not resting on its laurels. We continue to work to ensure that this network is well-funded, enforced and monitored so that the full range of the reef’s magnificent ecosystems and those areas that are special or unique are protected.

Scientists have identified 70 distinct biological regions in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park that represent its complete range of plants and animals. A minimum percentage of each biological region is protected from extractive uses in order to maintain healthy and resilient ecosystems and to safeguard the marine park’s broader biodiversity.
Coral Reef with anthias bassletts, Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, Australia. / ©: Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon
Coral Reef with anthias bassletts, Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, Australia.
© Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon

Until 2004, only 4.6% of the reef was fully protected, but as a result of public campaigning and pressure from WWF, the Australian Government committed to protect 33.4% of the reef.