Sanctuary Zones provide the highest level of protection for marine plants and animals and their habitats. Sanctuary Zones (‘No-take’ areas) are look but don't take zones. Recreational fishing, commercial fishing and collecting is not allowed in this zone. Only activities that do not harm the marine animals, plants and habitats are allowed, these include:
- scuba diving
- low impact tourism like whalewatching
- water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing and canoeing
General Use Zone
Both recreational and commercial activities are allowed in a General Use Zones as long as you abide by the bag and size limits set by the Department of Fisheries.
In some parks, there are restrictions in general use zones such as:
- no aquarium or specimen (shells, sand, animals, seaweed, coral, rock) collecting
- spearfishing on scuba or hookah is prohibited in all marine parks except the Rowley Shoals Marine Park
- no set netting
Before visiting a marine park, always ‘Know Your Zones’ and find out what you can and can’t do.
This zone allows for recreational fishing and other recreational activities, but commercial fishing and other commercial activities are not permitted.
Special Purpose zones
Special purpose zones protect specific habitats from a particular threat or allow for particular activities. For example:
- at Ningaloo Marine Park, Special Purpose (Shore based activities) Zones have been set up to allow for shore-based recreational fishing alongside some sanctuary zones;
- at Jurien Bay Marine Park, a Special Purpose (Scientific Reference) Zone has been set aside so scientists can study natural processes in the marine environment, and certain activities are not allowed in this zone
- at Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, a Special Purpose (Wildlife Conservation) Zone has an 8 knot speed limit to limit the potential risk of boats striking Australian sea lions, penguins, dolphins and reduce disturbance to nesting seabirds.
Each marine park has its own rules so it’s a good idea to download the permitted activities table for the park you want to visit (if it’s not available on the web visit the nearest DEC office).